Flooding is a temporary overflow of water onto land that is normally dry. Flooding can be the result of snow melting, hurricanes, or significant amounts of rain.
Know Your Risk
Anyone can fall victim to flooding, but some areas of NJ are more likely to flood. Contact your local or County Office of Emergency Management to determine your level of risk. Stay informed on weather conditions and become knowledgeable about the terminology that will be used.
- A Flood or Flash Flood Watch issued by the National Weather Service means flooding or flash flooding is possible in your area.
- A Flood or Flash Flood Warning means a flood or flash flood will occur very soon or is already occurring.
Standard homeowners’ insurance policies do not cover flooding and without it, you have little protection from the floods. Learn more about FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program and protect your home.
Preparing For A Flood
- Listen to a battery-powered radio or television for the latest storm information, and for instructions from Public Safety Officials.
- Fill bathtubs, sinks, and jugs with clean water in case water becomes contaminated.
- Move valuables, such as papers, jewelry, and clothing to upper floors or higher elevations.
- Bring outdoor items, such as lawn furniture, and trash cans inside or tie them down securely.
- If public officials instruct you to do so, shut off the water and electricity. Leave natural gas service ON unless local officials advise you to do otherwise.
- Fill your car's gas tank or for those who depend on public transit, listen for evacuation instructions.
Flooding is commonly one of the side effects of a hurricane. Learn more about Preparing for a Hurricane.
Depending on your situation, you and your family may need special considerations for individuals with disabilities, seniors, children, and pets. Visit our Emergency Preparation for Special Populations page.
During A Flood
During a flood, people should go to the upper floors of their homes. If water begins to rise inside your home before you have been evacuated, retreat to an upper floor, the attic, and, if necessary, the roof.
If directed to evacuate:
When directed to evacuate, follow the instructions you are given by public safety officials. Heed their advice immediately.
- Leave as soon as possible.
- Bring your Emergency Kit
- Dress for the weather with a minimum of a long sleeve shirt, pants, and sturdy shoes.
- Take your pets with you.
- Lock your home.
- Use travel routes specified by local authorities - don't use shortcuts because certain areas may be impassable or dangerous.
- Avoid flooded roads and washed-out bridges.
- Stay away from downed power lines.
- If you have time:
- Call your family contact to tell them where you are going and when you expect to arrive.
- Shut off water and electricity before leaving, if instructed to do so. Leave natural gas service ON unless local officials advise you otherwise.
- Listen to local authorities. They will provide you with the most accurate information specific to an event in your area. Stay tuned to local radio and television.
Avoid Coming In Contact With Floodwaters
Whenever possible, stay away from floodwater. Floodwaters may carry raw sewage, chemical waste, and other disease-spreading substances. If you touch floodwaters, wash your hands with soap and disinfected water. Flood water may also carry electric currents from downed powerlines and wires. Floodwater is often deeper than it appears and has its own current. Do not attempt to drive, walk, or swim to safety through floodwaters. When near floodwaters, be on the lookout for animals, like snakes, who may be seeking higher ground.
Returning Home After A Flood
- Return home only after authorities advise it is safe to do so. Keep tuned to your local radio and TV stations for recovery information.
- Beware of downed or loose power lines. Report them immediately to the power company, police, or fire department.
- Avoid flooded roads and washed-out bridges.
- Enter your home with caution.
- Beware of snakes, insects, and other animals being driven to higher ground by floodwater.
- Clean and disinfect everything that was touched by floodwaters.
- Open windows and doors to ventilate and dry your home.
- Do not use candles or open flames indoors. Use a flashlight to inspect for damage.
- Beware of the potential for electrocution. Wear rubber gloves and rubber-soled shoes to avoid electrocution. Do not turn on any lights or appliances if the house has been flooded. Leave the electricity off when checking electrical circuits and equipment or when checking a flooded basement.
- Check refrigerated foods for spoilage.
- Check for structural damage before re-entering your home. Watch for falling debris and the possibility of collapsing ceilings and basement walls. Do NOT go in if there is a chance the building will collapse.
- Let a relative know you are back at home. Tell them how to get in touch with you if the phone lines are still down.