Flood: Emergency Response Planning

The majority of the world’s population lives in close proximity to the coast or major inland waterways. As a result, flooding poses a significant risk to many veterinary practices in the US and around the globe.

Floods vary in geographical impact and the speed with which water levels rise. A tropical storm may impact hundreds of miles of coastal communities over a period of days, while localized flash floods may impact small geographical areas in a matter of minutes. Regardless of what causes them or the speed with which they occur, floods have the potential to destroy property, take lives, and cripple businesses. With FEMA estimating that over 40% of businesses that experience a significant disaster do not reopen, implementing a Flood Emergency Response Plan (FERP) is critical to ensuring the continuity and survival of businesses in flood-prone areas.

 1. Identify Your Risks

The first step to being prepared is to identify and understand your risks. Are your practices located in flood zones?  When new buildings are planned, potential sites should be reviewed for flood risk. If building in a flood zone is necessary, be sure to locate key electrical and mechanical equipment above grade level, with additional flood protection such as pitched drains and sump pumps. Click here for 9 Questions to Aid with Flood Planning.


2. Create a Plan

Once you have identified that a property is at risk for flooding, a Flood Emergency Response Plan (FERP) should be developed. The plan should  designate a person in charge who has the authority to activate the plan and direct resources before, during, and after the emergency. It should also create guidelines for flood-proofing the property in the event of an impending storm (such as sandbagging entryways and safely shutting down or moving equipment) and contain instructions on post-flood recovery.

3. Prepare in Advance

Long before a flood strikes, the following actions should be taken to mitigate damage.

  • Stockpile key materials and supplies, such as sandbags, plywood and nails, tarps, portable pumps, power tools and hand tools, mops, buckets, etc.
  • Ensure that all on-site personnel have easy access to emergency supplies, such as drinking water, non-perishable food, radios, first aid kits, lighting, and necessary personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Keep all fuel tanks full (vehicles, emergency generators, etc.).
  • Ensure that all hazardous substances are safely contained and never stored on the floor.
  • Identify the practice's power source so that it can quickly be shut off if the need arises.