How To Prepare For Hurricane Isaac in St. Louis

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ST. LOUIS, (KPLR) -The remnants of Hurricane Isaac and this year`s drought may hit St. Louis homeowners with a one-two punch.  What`s left of the Gulf Coast storm could cause big problems here. If it starts to pour residents with finished basement may quickly learn there are crack in the concrete behind the drywall. 

Those cracks could have been caused by the summer drought that dried out the soil.  Matt Ford works for Helitech, a company that repairs foundations.  He said, "Now, what will happen is when we get this rain because that soil is pulled away from the house the water will now just jet right down to that area and come in those cracks that recently have been formed."

Ford said even if you don`t have water problems this weekend they could occur weeks from now, "The soil will absorb that water and that soil will swell like a sponge and push on a foundation causing the walls to push in so you may see cracking."

Meanwhile, the folks at M.S.D. are warning people to clean up around their home in efforts to prevent their houses from getting flooded by sewer backups.   They advise residents to remove leaves and trash from street gutters and make sure the drain to walk-in basements and window wells are clear.  Lance LeComb is an MSD spokesman. 

He said, "The storms that have done the most widespread damage flooding to our area have been hurricanes or tropical storms that have come off the Gulf of Mexico, the Texas coast."

This is MSD's check list of how to prepare your home for Hurricane Isaac

Streets:  Leaves, plastic bottles, branches, and other debris can easily block inlets.  When high intensity rainstorms hit, these items are washed into the inlets.  Items that make it into the sewer decrease the amount of water that can be handled.  Items that don’t go into the sewer block inlets, which in-turn causes street and other localized flooding.*

Downspouts:  Make sure downspouts are clear and directed away from your home, preferably to a green space, such as a lawn, garden, or some other area that can absorb rainwater.  Misdirected downspouts can direct water toward a home, causing flooding within the structure or foundation damage.*

Window Wells:  Many homes have window wells outside their basement windows.  Be sure these are free of leaves and other debris so the window wells can drain properly and quickly.  If water accumulates, it presses up against the basement window, which in-turn seeps into or even floods the basement.

Stairwell Drains:  Homes that can be entered through a basement door will have a drain at the bottom of the stairwell.  Be sure the drain is not blocked and is clear of leaves and other debris.  If water accumulates in the stairwell, it can seep into or even flood the basement.*

Gutters:  Be sure gutters are free of leaves, branches, and other blockages so they can drain rainwater off a house’s roof and other areas as quickly as possible.  Blocked gutters can cause water to cascade down the side of a structure or pond on a roof, both of which can cause rainwater to enter a home.*

Indoor Water Use:  Through the sheer volume of rainwater that can enter some sewer systems that also handle wastewater, the ability of the public sewers to handle water from indoor uses can be restricted.  By limiting the use of dishwashers, washing machines, bathtubs, and the like during intense rainfalls, less demand will be put on the sewer system, thus increasing its ability to handle rainwater.

Drainage Ways/Paths:  In many parts of our community, small creeks, streams, and other waterways provide stormwater drainage.  Ensure that the path rainwater travels from your property to drain into these waterways is clear of possible blockages.  Portable pools, loose recreational equipment, piles of yard debris (grass clippings, branches, etc.), and the like can block these drainage ways and stop water from draining as quickly as possible from your property.  Remove these possible blockages and ensure that rainwater has an unimpeded flow to the waterway.

Local Creeks & Streams:  Local creeks, streams, and other waterways provide stormwater drainage for many parts of our community.  The vast majority of these waterways are private property.  Thus, responsibility to keep these waterways maintained and clear falls on adjacent property owners or the subdivision as a whole.  Ensuring that these waterways are clear of grass clippings, branches, fallen trees, and other debris will allow rainwater to be carried away as quickly as possible.

FLOODING:  Anyone who lives adjacent to or near a waterway – no matter how small the waterway is during dry weather – lives in a floodplain or drainage way.  During high intensity rainfalls (a large amount of rain falling in a short period of time), creeks, streams, rivers, and other waterways can quickly become a torrent of rushing water, possibly causing extensive flash flooding, and putting property and human safety at risk.  If you live near such a waterway or live in a low area to which rainwater normally flows, pay close attention to weather alerts and the weather conditions around your home.  If you feel that conditions are such that your property or safety is at risk, seek higher ground – do not wait!!!  If you find yourself trapped by water or in a situation that you cannot easily escape, contact 911.  MSD is not equipped or trained to conduct rescue operations or emergency response.  911 will connect you with the first responders (police, fire, etc.) that can best and immediately help you.

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