Spring Thaw and Flood Danger

Spring is just around the corner, and as the weather in Colorado begins to warm and temperatures rise, the winter season’s snow can melt rapidly. This time of year can also mean severe hail storms, snow storms, and heavy rains.

Snow melt in the Colorado River basin can bring rivers and streams to the brink of flooding. Rapid snow melts and heavy rains can cause flash flooding. Severe hail storms can worsen flooding by clogging storm sewer inlets and impeding surface drainage. It is important that our members are aware of where their district property lies in relation to potential flood zones, and that they are prepared.

Below are excerpts from the City and County of Denver, Flood Protection Handbook, published in conjunction with Urban Drainage and Flood Control District in 2003. Although these examples are directed more toward personal property and homes, they also apply to our member’s district properties.

A few examples of preparedness are:

  • Determine how bad flooding could be on your property. The Denver Office of Emergency Management and the Urban Drainage and Flood Control District can help you with this.
  • Be familiar with official warning and evacuation procedures.
  • Purchase your own water alarm if your flooding comes from sewer backup or basement seepage. The alarm can give you extra time to keep your damage to a minimum. A water alarm, which is in the same vein as a smoke alarm, will beep when water touches it. Water alarms cost about $25 and are available online and at hardware stores.
  • Talk to your insurance agent about your homeowner’s and flood insurance coverage. Consider separate flood and sewer backup insurance policies.
  • Prepare a list of emergency telephone numbers, including the number for your insurance agent. Make copies and keep them in your car, at work, or other safe locations away from your home.
  • Assemble the supplies you will need for cleanup and recovery and put them in a safe place that will stay dry during a flood.
  • Make a record of all your personal property. Go through your house by room and make an inventory. Take photographs of the inside and outside of your house, or videotape. Inventory forms are available free from most insurance companies, or you can create your own.
  • Know Your Flood Hazards
    • Identify the stream or other flooding source nearest your home
    • Find out how deep floodwaters can get in your neighborhood
    • Learn where fast-moving water or water filled with debris is likely to occur
    • Determine the best ways for you and your family to get a flood warning
    • Understand that floods can occur with little or no warning
    • Find out what streets are likely to be flooded or barricaded in and around your neighborhood
  • Flood Warnings -The National Weather Service (NWS) issues three basic types of flood notices:
    • Flood Watch means river flooding or flash flooding is possible.
    • Flash Flood Warning means flash flooding is imminent or occurring.
    • Flood Warning means that river flooding is imminent or occurring.

A fourth type of notice is sometimes issued to warn that nuisance flooding is possible or occurring. This is called an Urban and Small Stream Flood Advisory.

Other examples of district flood preparedness are:

  • Installing a National Weather Service (NWS), Emergency Managers (EMs) weather information network that automatically receives weather products (including watches, warning, and advisories).
  • Installing automated precipitation and stream flow gauges. Information from these gauges can be transmitted directly to the district, giving a real-time view of rainfall and stream levels.
  • Set up an Emergency Operations Center consisting of a special, on hand staff during emergencies.
  • Set up a “reverse-911” dialing system that allows the Emergency Operations Center to send a prerecorded message to the district and all homes within it.
  • Set up an agreement with the local radio stations to broadcast emergency messages to the public.

A spring snow melt may also cause streams, reservoirs, and lakes to overflow. As these bodies of water are often used for recreation, it is important that our member districts post signs in these areas, warning of possible flooding.

Your Pool automatically provides $2,000,000 Flood coverage per occurrence and annual aggregate for members with scheduled property, except $25,000,000 per occurrence and all member annual aggregate at locations partially or wholly exposed to areas of frequent flooding, flood Zone A, and Zone V. Increased limits are available to our members. Please contact us via email.

It is important that each district assess the possibility of a flood that could partially or fully destroy property or business assets and ask themselves if $2,000,000 is enough to rebuild or replace property damaged. Please refer to the Know Your Flood Hazards checklist previously mentioned.

Additionally, heavy snow melt can result in roof and gutter damage. With extreme temperatures throughout the winter comes severe abuse to roofs, and sudden damage can occur without warning. Now is the time to inspect roofs for potential repairs. Please refer to the Watch for Snow Loads on Roofs article from our Autumn 2011 newsletter for more information.

If your district is unfortunate enough to experience a property or weather related claim, it is crucial that immediate notice be sent to the claims administrator with a description of the property involved. Late reporting can really prejudice an investigation. Damaged property, if any, may have been repaired in the interim or may not be available for inspection. No matter how small the claim may appear, it needs to be reported. The claims administrator needs the opportunity to handle the claim immediately and protect your rights under the policy, and measures should be taken to protect the covered property from further damage by any cause.

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