Emergency Guide to Flooding Preparedness

According to the latest FEMA flood map data, 40 million people in the continental U.S. are at risk for a 100-year flood event; that’s three times more than previously estimated. Additionally, the amount of property in harm’s way is twice the current estimate.

Gathering Information

Start by putting together a communications plan to implement in the event of a flooding disaster. Questions that need answers at this point include:

  • How will your residents receive official alerts, warnings, and emergency information?
  • What is the shelter plan for your community?
  • For evacuations, what are the official routes to use?
  • How will your team broadcast flood alerts and other pertinent information to your community?

Once you have started asking the right questions and gathering this information, your emergency preparation plan will begin to take shape. Now determine who is involved directly and indirectly in receiving and transmitting emergency notifications via your organization. Here are some examples of roles that you may need to fill:

  • Evacuation leaders
  • Search and rescue teams
  • Aides for those who are disabled
  • Monitors at areas of assembly, such as a mobile police unit or emergency medical supply tent
  • Communications leaders

Establishing Emergency Notifications

Next, decide what kind of system you will have in place to communicate before, during, and following a flood emergency. OnSolve offers cloud-based communications systems including the CodeRED Weather Warning system. This is an ideal system for flood preparedness and notification because it enables your organization to automatically send out alerts based on the National Weather Service information.

In addition, the system communicates through several methods including email, voice calling, and texting. Whichever solution your organization chooses to use, your team will need to know how to use it properly. This involves routine testing to ensure that the system will work in any flood emergency whether it is a flash flood, 100-year flood, or flood warning.

Getting Community to Opt-In

In order to notify your community of a flood, your agency will be responsible for getting individuals to opt into your preferred notifications system. To do this across a large area or diverse population can be tricky. For starters, not everyone watches cable news or reads the local newspaper anymore. At the same time, if your community is not opting in to receive your emergency alerts, then your agency is not going to be effective in providing flood emergency services.

Some best practices for promoting notification tools to residents to increase opt-in rates include:

  • Television commercials on antennae and local cable news networks
  • Ads in your local or regional newspaper
  • Flyers distributed at local shopping malls, schools, and public service providers
  • Direct mail via postcards or newspaper inserts
  • Billboards and signage
  • Radio ads on local stations and satellite radio stations that are most popular in your community

In addition, branch out to residents and visitors alike using nontraditional communications methods. Thanks to modern technology you can reach far more individuals online than ever before. Here are some ideas of ways to do this:

  • Search for individuals living in your service area using social media, i.e., Facebook and Twitter, and send geo-targeted ads
  • Set up online opt-in services using your organization’s website, as well as the city and/or county government’s official site
  • Create YouTube videos explaining your communications’ system and service, along with opt-in information

Engaging With Mass Communication

When the community opts in to receive information from your notification system, you need to provide them with the most flexibility in how they receive information. This falls in line with how you get individuals to opt into your system. Have a method of tracking in place so your organization can determine which method of communication worked best for the opt-in. Then focus more resources on providing ongoing notifications with this communications method.

At the same time, note that during a flood emergency, services including the internet and power may be out or limited. That’s why you want to offer a multi-focal approach to mass communications as part of your flood preparedness. If you are interested in CodRED or more information about emergency notification technology, contact OnSolve. We are here to help you determine which resources and systems will best suit your community in a flood-prone or flood danger zone.

Effective Emergency Notifications – Accurate Data Management and Enrollment

Mass notification solutions provide a gateway between community officials and their residents during an emergency. Being able to reach the public quickly is imperative. One of the greatest challenges: maintaining resident contact information.

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