The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration warned “unprecedented” flooding is likely to occur this spring, with “more than 200 million people at risk.” (Photo: AP Photo/Steve Helber)

The majority of the country will likely experience above-average precipitation this spring, substantially elevating the flood risk for this spring season, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced in their U.S. Spring Outlook.

Affecting half of the country, the NOAA predicts approximately 25 states have a potential for major or moderate flooding, touching the lives of nearly 200,000 Americans. This forecast comes after portions of the country — particularly in the upper Mississippi and Missouri River basins including Nebraska, Minnesota and Iowa —have already experienced severe flooding already in 2019.

The NOAA explains these early flood events were caused by rapid snowmelt combined with heavy spring rain and late season snowfall in areas where soil moisture is high. Additionally, in some areas, ice jams are exacerbating the flooding.

In already affected areas, particularly in the central and southern U.S., the threat worsens from the surrounding river basins. As excess water from increased rain events and snowmelt flows downstream through the river basins, the flood threat will worsen in severity and size, expanding its risk geographically.

Related: Midwest floods reach Superfund sites in 3 states, EPA says

How to prepare for an ‘unprecedented’ flood season

As with any natural disaster, the keys to protecting yourself, your property and your business are through proper preparation and appropriate response measures.

In response to NOAA’s Spring Outlook Report, disaster-recovery company Interstate Restoration offered suggestions on ways that businesses can prepare for extreme spring weather events.

For homeowners and business owners alike, developing a proper evacuation plan and building an emergency care kit are two critical safety steps in preparing for flooding and other extreme weather events. Map out evacuation routes that acknowledge roads or areas that may become unpassable in the event of a flood. When building your emergency care kit, Interstate Restoration reps say to include clean water and a water purifier, non-perishable food, a battery-powered radio, flashlights, toiletries, extra batteries and cell phone chargers.

Additionally, home and business owners should educate their families and employees on the risks associated with flooding and their area’s direct risks. Flood waters can quickly become hazardous with contaminants and could even be electrically charged from power lines.

Related: Community resilience is key to disaster recovery, but many are unprepared (Study)

Preparing your business and employees for flood events

For businesses, flood and other severe weather events pose substantial financial risks, as the return to normal business operations could be postponed weeks or months following a flood event. Recovery can prove very difficult if businesses and owners are not properly prepared.

To protect your business, Interstate Restoration sources offer three key steps to prepare for a flood event.

First, ensure that you have the right insurance in place. Insurance companies define flooding in specific ways and most polices include a flood damage exclusion. If you aren’t clear on what your policy covers, ask your insurance broker to clarify and consider supplemental flood insurance, if needed. Otherwise, you might end up footing much bigger recovery bills than you are expecting.

Secondly, protect and backup essential documents and information critical to your business operations, finances and insurance. Any business-critical documents or computers could be lost forever if housed in areas inundated by flood waters. Keep backups of key data and documents in a secure secondary offsite location.

Thirdly, Interstate Restoration suggests establishing a partnership with a disaster recovery provider in preparation for weather events. In the aftermath of a flood event, the recovery process needs to begin as soon as possible in order to minimize damage and eliminate the excess water that threatens to destroy the building structure and grow bacteria like mold.

If the response is too slow, the recovery process can be made significantly longer and more costly. A disaster recovery provider helps speed up the recovery process, providing you and your business with appropriate resources when timing is of the essence.

Additional details on NOAA’s spring flood and weather predictions and their full U.S. Spring Outlook report can be found on their website, along with information on how NOAA officials are partnering with local agencies to provide preventative assistance ahead of severe spring weather.

Related: Spring means hail, and costly hail damage