June 17, 2011 – Flooding conditions often require extended absences from homes and businesses. By planning ahead, homeowners and businesses can help protect the environment and make the cleanup easier when they return. Here are some proactive pollution prevention and safety measures to consider:
Household chemicals -- Check your basements, outdoor sheds, garages and other potentially flood-prone areas for items such as paint, gasoline, pesticides and other household chemicals. Get them to a safe and dry location, or properly dispose of them. Take them to a household hazardous waste collection site if there is one available in your area. Click here to view a list of household hazardous waste facilities. Or, individuals can send these household wastes to the landfill. Also, consider whether outdoor items such as propane tanks would be susceptible to being washed away in a flood. For more information, refer to “Securing Your Propane Tank” at the University of Nebraska-Extension’s web site at: http://flood.unl.edu/ *
Click on the PDF below to view a “Pre-Flood Household Hazardous Waste Prevention Checklist” developed by the U.S. EPA:
(See attached file: epa fact sheet pre-flood.pdf)
Septic Systems – Septic systems will not function properly when flooded, or when the soil around the soil absorption field (drainfield) is saturated. For more information, refer to “Managing a Septic System Before, During and After a Flood” located at the University of Nebraska Extension’s web site at https://flood.unl.edu/septic-systems *
Your refrigerator and freezer -- Do you have food in your refrigerator and freezer that would go bad if you are gone for an extended amount of time and there’s no electricity? Rotting food can pose a serious health concern during cleanup, so it is best to remove these items beforehand if possible. For more information, refer to “Practice Basic Food Safety Before and After Floods” located at the University of Nebraska Extension’s web site at: http://flood.unl.edu/*
Equipment and vehicles – If flooding is imminent relocate all active vehicles to a location outside the flood zone to prevent costly water damage to electrical systems, interiors and other components, as well as to prevent spillage from gasoline tanks, antifreeze, and oil. Likewise, relocate lawn tractors, lawn mowers and other equipment to a safe and dry location.
Have an evacuation plan -- Since this is an unpredictable situation, be prepared to respond when local, state or federal officials give directions. Plan ahead, and be ready to move immediately if evacuation instructions are given. Below are additional tips from the American Red Cross.
(See attached file: FloodSafetyChecklist.pdf)
For daily updates on the flooding situation in Nebraska, visit the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency’s web site at http://www.nema.nebraska.gov/*
University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension has established a Flood Resources web site, located at http://flood.unl.edu/*. In addition to topics referred to above, this site also has information regarding: Preparing to Evacuate Your Farm; Sandbagging; Water-Inflated Barriers; Steps to Reduce Flood Damage; and Drinking Water and Wastewater Information.
For more information on what to do following a flood, refer to Recommended Procedures for Planning and Recovering from a Disaster from the Nebraska Department of Human Services at
For more information on environmental issues related to flooding visit the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality’s web site at http://deq.ne.gov and select “Flooding in Nebraska: Environmental Guidance.”
* This Page contains links to Non-NDEQ websites, these links will open in a New Tab or Window