Expert shares tips on keeping floodwater away from your home

Apr 10, 2023, 5:30 PM | Updated: Apr 17, 2023, 9:29 am


Volunteers and city employees fill sand bags due to flooding in Highland on Wednesday, March 15, 2023. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

(Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Besides sandbags, how else can you prevent floodwater from reaching your home? Do you know how to find out if you live in a flood plain? Is your home and its contents protected against flooding? 

Did you know?

  • Depending on density, 1 inch of snow across a single acre of land can yield anywhere from 1,300 to 5,400 gallons of water when melted, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). 
  • A report on spring flooding from (PDF) found that between 2006 and 2010, the average flood claim was approximately $34,000 in damages.
  • When temperatures start to rise, shovel snow at least 3 to 5 feet away from the base of your home. Clear snow and debris out of and away from your gutters and downspouts so snowmelt can drain properly, advises ServiceMaster Restore.

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall said Monday that the city is more prepared now in processes, planning and infrastructure compared to the record floodwater of 1983 that turned State Street in downtown into a river.

Salt Lake City leaders discuss flood prevention efforts

Ask the expert

Jamie Huff, certified flood-plain manager for the Utah Division of Emergency Management (DEM), joins Dave & Dujanovich to talk about springtime floodwater and flood-proofing your home.

Huff said a homeowner can check whether their home is located in a flood-prone area by going to and entering an address.

She said there are many types of flooding, such as an overburdened stormwater system from high-intensity storms. But for now the DEM is focused on snowmelt flooding across much of the state.

Is there a hidden slope toward my home?

Dave wanted to know how to determine if the landscaping around his house is appropriately sloped to prevent flooding into a basement or window well.

“Because a lot of times when the professionals are sloping, it’s not like a hill,” he said. 

“If you have a stair-step to go into your home, there’s generally some kind of sloping that has been pushed away,” Huff said.

Debbie said she was able to ensure water was flowing away from her home’s foundation by turning on a garden hose.

“I did this at one of my houses. I watched the hose, I put the hose on. And I watched where the water went when the hose was on. And if it went away from the home,” Debbie said.

“Well, that’s a life hack — jeez, Deb,” Dave said.

“Sorry to steal your thunder over there, Jamie,” Debbie said.

“That’s a great idea!” Huff replied.

Always be prepared — for floodwater

 “What do we need to be thinking about in terms of flood prep, Jamie? Give us some tips,” Debbie asked.

“Obviously, sandbags, that’s a great way to start prepping your own personal home or property. There’s also ways that you can move all of those valuable items, if you have a lower level that is susceptible to potential flooding,” Huff said.

“A lot of stuff gets stored in the basement and forgotten,” Debbie interjected.

“So move all of those valuables to a higher floor if possible,” Huff said and recommended storing valuables in watertight containers.

Debbie said she didn’t buy watertight containers. However, she plans to wrap boxes of valuables in cellophane to guard against water damage. 

“I thought about just wrapping it with some serious cellophane, like the commercial-grade cellophane,” Debbie said. “Wrapping those boxes, especially things that are critical, you know, for my kids’ first-grade projects and stuff like that. Is that a hack? Also putting them on bricks, like stacking them up a little bit.”

“Absolutely. Elevating anything higher than where you think water could go in your home is the best thing to do,” Huff said.

Related reading:

Looking back at the 1983 flood that sent a river through downtown

Utah cleanup crews preparing for flooding, reaching out to other states

Avalanche warning issued for northern Utah mountains and foothills

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play. 

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Expert shares tips on keeping floodwater away from your home