As spring approaches, floods are the most common natural disaster in the United States, and FEMA is urging people to take steps now to protect themselves before more seasonal floods strike.

The spring months bring unique risks to inland states, particularly throughout the Midwest. Spring weather brings rapid snowmelt, severe storms and heavy rainfall, increasing the likelihood of flooding.

This spring marks the 15th anniversary of the Great Floods of 1993 — still one of the largest floods in U.S. history. During the spring and summer of 1993, nine Midwest states experienced catastrophic flooding that resulted in $270 million in insured losses and more than $15 billion in total damages.

“Floods pose a threat to every state in our nation and they happen year round — often with little notice,” said David Maurstad, Assistant Administrator of Mitigation and Federal Insurance Administrator for FEMA.

FEMA offers residents and businesses alike the following tips to prepare for flooding:

Before a flood:
  • Have a safety kit with drinking water, a first-aid kit, canned food, a radio, flashlight and blankets.
  • Know safe routes from home, work and school that are on higher ground.
  • Protect your property. Make sure your flood insurance policy is up to date.
During a flood:
  • If flooding occurs, go to higher ground. Get out of areas subject to flooding. This includes dips, low spots, canyons, washes, etc.
  • Avoid areas already flooded, especially if the water is flowing fast. Do not attempt to cross flowing streams.
  • Roadbeds may be washed out under flood waters. Never drive through flooded roadways. If your vehicle is suddenly caught in rising water, leave it immediately and seek higher ground.
After a flood:
  • Do not turn electricity back on if you detect gas or if the electrical system has been flooded.
  • Clean and disinfect everything that was touched by floodwaters or mudflows and throw out any such foodstuffs.
  • Follow directions from local officials regarding the safety of drinking water.