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Preparing for a Flood

Flood Insurance

You don’t have to live near water to become a flood victim. In fact, everyone lives in a flood zone. It is just a matter of how likely it is that a flood will hit your home. And, unfortunately, floods are the most common natural disaster. Flood insurance is a good idea even if you have floodproofed your house. Flood insurance can protect you from unexpected events, such as a flood that rises higher than your flood protection level. Homeowner’s policies do not cover damage caused by floods.

Flood zones are rated based on the "100-year flood" or the "500-year flood." This is the standard used by most federal and state agencies, is used by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) as the standard for floodplain management, and is used to determine the need for flood insurance.

The "100-year flood" zone means that the area’s elevation has a 1% chance of being equaled or exceeded by flooding each year, or a 26% chance of suffering flood damage during the term of a 30-year mortgage.

The "500-year flood" zone means that the area has a lower risk of flooding. However, 25% of all flood insurance claims are from these areas.

Did You Know?

  • 90% of all Presidentially-declared disasters included flooding.
  • 90% of all disasters are not Presidentially-declared.
  • Floods are the most common natural disaster.
  • Just in the last two years, floods have hit homes and businesses in all 50 states.
  • Floods and flash floods kill more people in the United States than any other natural disaster.
  • Floods do not only occur near bodies of water. Heavy rainfall can flood entire cities.
  • Unanticipated flooding can happen in areas previously considered out of flood reach.
  • Construction and erosion can change water’s natural running patterns.
  • About one in four flood disasters occur in areas with a low to moderate risk of flooding.
  • Property damage from flooding now totals more than $1 billion in the United States.
  • Flood insurance policies normally take 30 days from the date of purchase to go into effect. Do not wait until a flood hits to get covered.
  • The most dangerous type of flooding is a flash flood, which usually occurs within minutes or hours of a heavy rainfall, a dam or dike failure or a large break in an ice jam.
  • Disaster assistance is provided in Presidentially-declared disaster areas. However, if you receive disaster assistance, you are not eligible for it again for the next 3 years. You need flood insurance to cover damage should your home flood again in the 3 years following a Presidentially-declared disaster.
  • Flood insurance covers more damage than disaster assistance. A home with flood insurance may be covered for $250,000, whereas, the same house would be covered for $35,000 with federal assistance.
  • The City of Wood River strictly prohibits the dumping of any kind of debris in drainage ditches. When debris accumulates in the drainage ditches the ditches cannot store water thereby causing more flooding.

Estimated Cost of Coverage

Flood insurance is the best way to protect yourself before a flood hits. Flood damage often goes way beyond the house. Flood victims not only lose their homes and treasured possessions, but rebuilding costs can also deplete the homeowner’s savings.

Most homeowner and commercial insurance policies do not cover floods. However, you can get flood insurance for your home or business because the City of Wood River participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). There are over 18,000 communities in the United States now participating in this program. To find out how much your flood insurance policy would cost, you must first determine your home’s flood zone. Visit to determine the risk level of your home or business. To determine what flood zone you live in visit or contact the City of Wood River, Department of Building and Zoning at (618) 251-3100.

Prepare for a Flood

  • Keep emergency building supplies on hand, such as lumber, plywood, nails, hammer, saw, sandbags, shovel, crowbar and plastic sheeting.
  • Plan an evacuation route and meeting place. Practice the plan with your family.
  • Keep an emergency weather alert radio on hand. Be sure to always have backup batteries.
  • Make a written and video inventory. Keep insurance policies and a list of personal property in a safe location outside your home.
  • Prevent floodwater backup by having check valves installed in your plumbing.
  • Move electrical system components to a higher location. If possible, secure shelves and water heaters to walls.

During a Flood

Keep safe during a flood by following these tips:

  • Listen to your radio or TV for emergency information. Evacuate immediately if told to do so.
  • Do not walk or drive through floods. Even 6 inches of moving water is dangerous.
  • Move to higher ground.
  • Avoid storm drains and sewers.
  • Look out for snakes and animals that seek shelter in your home.
  • Keep away from power lines.
  • Do not enter buildings surrounded by flood water.

After a Flood

What do you do after your home has been flooded? Follow these tips from the American Red Cross and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

  • Wait for the water to go down before entering your home.
  • Report downed power lines and gas leaks.
  • Turn off the electricity at the main breaker or fuse box. If you have to step in water to get to your electric box, call an electrician.
  • Turn off the gas if you have gas appliances. Then clean the mud out of the pilot and burners.
  • Check for structural damage.
  • Check the ceiling for signs of sagging. Poke a hole at the edge of the sag to drain water.
  • Find and protect the "irreplaceable" valuables such as money, jewelry, insurance papers, photographs and family heirlooms. Then freeze them in plastic bags to protect them from mildew and further damage.
  • Circulate air through your home by opening windows.
  • Patch holes in the roof, walls or windows with boards, tarps or plastic sheeting.
  • Repair sagging floors or roof sections with 4x4s to brace weak areas.
  • Remove debris such as tree limbs or other trash.
  • Check for broken or leaking water pipes. Do not drink, clean dishes, wash clothes or cook with tap water until it has been declared safe.
  • Drain water in your basement slowly and carefully. Pump 2 to 3 feet of water out and wait overnight. If the water level has risen, it is too early to drain your basement. Draining basements too early may result in serious structural damage.
  • Shovel out as much mud as possible.
  • Hose the house down, inside and out.
  • Hose heating and air conditioning ducts which may have mud in them to rid them of health hazards.
  • Hose out light sockets and electrical boxes. First, make sure the electricity is off.
  • Wash ducts work with a disinfectant or sanitizer, such as the quaternary, phenolic or pine oil-based cleaners.
  • Keep records of damage to the building, damage to the contents, receipts for cleanup and restoration expenses, such as material, labor and equipment rental, and receipts for flood-related expenses such as motel bills.
  • Replace wallboard which can act like a sponge and soak up health hazards in water.
  • Allow wood to dry naturally. It will usually regain its original shape.
  • Collect cleaning supplies such as brooms, mops, brushes, sponges, buckets, hoses, rubber gloves, rags, cleaning products, disinfectants, lubricating oil, trash bags and a hair dryer.
  • Clean and disinfect everything in you house, including the walls, floors, closest, shelves, contents-every flooded part of your house.

For a complete book on Repairing Your Flooded Home, contact FEMA Publications, P.O. Box 70274, Washington, DC 20024

Is Your House Substantially Damaged?

Substantially damaged means that the cost to restore your house to its "before damaged" condition would equal or exceed 50% of the value of your house before the damage occurred. If you are located in a floodplain, you must check with the Department of Building & Zoning before you build, fill or rebuild. Floodplain building additions, improvements, and repairs that equal or exceed 50% of the value of the existing building must meet the same construction requirements as a new building. Substantially improved or substantially damaged residential buildings must be elevated to or above the base flood elevation.

To report illegal floodplain development, contact the Department of Building & Zoning immediately at (618) 251-3100.

To report illegal dumping in the drainage systems, contact the Department of Public Services at (618) 251-3122.