Is there a way to keep floodwaters out of my house?

Flood Protection from the Outside

Before you begin implementing steps to prevent indoor flooding, take a walk around your house after a rain shower. Notice where the largest puddles are in the yard and how far away from the house they've collected. The closer that water accumulates to the foundation of a house, the more likely flooding becomes.

One of the easiest ways to divert water away from a building is to keep gutters clean. This will also reduce the amount of rainfall sitting on your roof, which can cause structural damage over time. If you don't have gutters, it may be wise to dig a drainage system around the perimeter of the house [source: O'Neil].

The downspouts that siphon the water from the gutters to the ground should also be cleared of debris. Ideally, the pipes will move the rain at least 10 feet (3 meters) from the foundation to ensure that it won't simply soak into the ground and seep to the structure [source: O'Neil].

Once the gutters and downspouts are prepped for rain, it's time to evaluate the overall landscape. Does the yard slope down gently from the house, or does it sit at the bottom of a decline as though located in the middle of a soup bowl? Especially if you live on a floodplain, the lawn should have some amount of grading, which channels water away from the house. That entails building up the amount of soil at the foundation of the house to form a downward slant. Different jurisdictions have varying ordinances regarding lawn regrading, so verify yours before digging in.

For those with green thumbs, beware the site of your flower or vegetable garden. If you routinely water a large plot in your yard, make sure that the excess doesn't stream toward the house. You can accomplish this by grading the garden plot to maximize the use of water.

Now that the yard is designed for flood safety, it's time to move inside.