What you can do before a flood occurs
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has compiled a list of steps a person could take to mitigate potential property damage before a flood occurs.
Location of site - Selection of the proper site can be a positive factor in avoiding future flooding. Avoid building in locations that are within known flood zones.
Elevation of the site - Your site planning should include evaluation of base flood levels. Building so that the lowest living level is above the base flood level will help avoid future damage.
Drainage of the site - The landscaping plan for the new site should take into consideration methods for rapidly draining water away from the house, particularly in the event of flash flooding. Underground drain tiles and sump pumps, if not required by code, should be considered as part of the overall drainage plan.
Sewer system - Installing a backflow valve in the sewer line or septic system will temporarily prevent sewer back up.
Electrical system - Raise the electrical system components above the base flood level. This includes electrical wiring, outlets, switches, meters and service panel.
Fuel tanks - Anchor fuel tanks so they will not float, and raise vent and filler tube above the base flood level.
Heating, ventilating and cooling system - Install HVAC systems above the base flood level or floodproof to the base flood level existing HVAC equipment if possible.
Rethinking basement usage - Basements in the upper midwest and plains states are used quite extensively as functional living areas and storage areas. Consider redesigning your use of the basement. For example, store important documents and valuable papers and objects where they will not get damaged, use removable carpeting, relocate appliances to a safe level, etc.
Buy flood insurance - Purchase flood insurance to cover the building and contents.
This list is only a brief summary of some of the steps recommended by FEMA. For a more detailed discussion of these ideas, go to the FEMA website.