Flood Control Department

Citizens Square

200 East Berry St., Ste 210

Fort Wayne, IN 46802



Name Position Phone
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. City Engineer (260) 427-1172
City of Fort Wayne Flood Hotline (260) 427-2875
Flood Awareness & Preparedness (260) 427-1250

Flood Control

FLOOD CONTROL - Emergency Action Information




•Sanitary & toilet supplies

•Hearing aid batteries

•Flashlight, batteries & bulbs

•First-aid supplies

•Battery-operated portable radio

•Baby formulas & supplies

•Shovel, hammer, pliers, axe & screwdriver

•Non-perishable foods


•Pet food

•Dry clothing (especially shoes & socks)

•Important papers

•Rubber boots, gloves & hardhat

•Bank & checkbook

•Valuables (jewelry, pictures, etc.)

•Water purification tablets and/or
  5.25% sodium hypochlorite liquid bleach

•Group games


Below are suggestions from the Army Corps of Engineers regarding actions that should be taken before a flood to prevent or decrease damage to your home and personal property.

Radio and television stations, newspapers and police and fire department personnel provide warnings about possible flooding in low-lying areas. If you live in an area subject to flooding, it is imperative that you know the level of your property in relation to the river flooding stages. If you live below the flood level, you will have an idea of how high the water will be in your home.

In the event of a flash flood warning, immediate action is necessary to save yourself and your family. Know in advance the route you will take to avoid the flood waters, for they are unpredicatable and deadly. Flash floods are ranked in terms of whether they will be minor, moderate or severe.

If you have to evacuate your home, there are certain essential items you should take with you that can be used during or after a flood. They can be found in the list to the left. Pack these in your car to be ready to go when you do. 

General Actions

1.) Move as many household items as possible to the highest place possible. Place furniture on beds and personal items on the furniture. Also, items can be placed on the roof covered with polyethylene sheet stapled in place using thin strips of wood or heavy cardboard. 

  • Include cardboard boxes and newspapers as items to be moved to higher ground because these disintegrate and clog drains as soon as flood waters recede.
  • CAUTION: Your roof or upper floor may not be able to safely support additional weight of heavy equipment or furniture so check first.

2.) Anchor, secure or weigh-down any items that may become debris or battering rams in moving water

  • For example, tie furniture and personal items on top of a bed to the bed. Then anchor the bed by tying it to the house structure.

3.) Remove all wood drawers, even empty ones, from built-ins (cabinets) and furniture (dressers). Wood swells when wet and the resulting pressure between the drawers and their containers can damage wood fibers.

4) Remove light bulbs from permanently mounted fixtures below flood level. Put the light bulbs and other glass items in a plastic bag to prevent glass from shattering and spreading.

5.) Protect valuable machinery and equipment that cannot be relocated by enclosing them in waterproof covers (Figure 3-3) or by coating them with water repellent grease. This helps minimize damage and facilitates cleaning and returning them to an operational condition. If practical, consider encircling such equipment with a wall of sandbags.

6.) Relocate chemicals that react with water to give off heat or form explosives and/or toxic gases and ensure that they are in waterproof containers. This will prevent safety hazards, pollution or damage to materials in your home.

7.) Remove and dispose of perishable food items in cabinets, refrigerators and indoor trash cans or place in plastic bags or containers and seal shut. Tie shut and anchor outdoor garbage cans to minimize spread of disease and unsanitary conditions. Tie down loose items in the yard to prevent them from being carried away by flood water or battered against other items or structures.

8.) If you have a boat, move it in such a way that you can gain access to it easily during the flood.

Return to Top 


Electrical System



01a01bThe flow of electricity in your home is controlled by either plug fuses (Figure 3-1) or circuit breakers (Figure 3-2) located within a panel board mounted on the wall.








Read below to learn how to protect your electrical system in either case of imminent flooding or normal flood preparations:

Imminent Flooding

1.) If flooding is imminent, REMOVE all fuses, including the one at the main switch and at the range switch.

2.) Put them in a place above anticipated flood level.

Normal Flood Preparations

1.) Open the panelboard door and identify what parts of the system each plug fuse or circuit breaker controls.

  • These actions help minimize the danger of short circuits when the power company returns service to your home after the flood.

2.) Then, determine which lights, appliances and outlets are controlled by that fuse or circuit breaker.

  • This information may be on the back of the panelboard already.
  • If it isn't available, experiment by removing each fuse or switching each circuit breaker at a time to OFF.

3.) Write this information on a sheet of paper to take with you when you evacuate or put in a place above the anticipated flood water level.

4.) Replace the fuse of switch the circuit breaker back to ON.

5.) Repeat the process until the entire electrical system of your home has been checked.

• CAUTION: Some appliances contain compressors (air-conditioners, refrigerators, freezers) that may have to rest a short time (5 minutes) before being turned on again to avoid blowing the fuse or opening the circuit.


Close main gas valve.

  • This valve is generally located on the gas piping just prior to its entry into the gas meter.


1.) Close main water valve.

  • This valve is usually found on the exterior wall or on the floor of the lowest level of your home where the water supply enters.

2.) Drinking water can be stored in a clean and covered bathtub or in the hot water tank.

Fuel Tanks

1.) Anchor fuel tanks to prevent them from overturning or floating.

2.) Close fuel tank valves to prevent leaks, spills and flood infiltration.

Return to Top 


The Structure

Only a qualified structural engineer can tell whether your basement can cannot withstand antcipated flood-water levels.

If a qualified structural engineer has not checked your house to determine its structural soundness or has determined your house to be structurally incapable of withstanding additional forces created by buildup of flood waters on the outside, look at the steps to allow water in basements.

If a qualified structural engineer has determined your house to be capable of withstanding anticipated floodwater depths, look at the steps to keep water out of basements.

Allow Water in Basements

1.) Open all windows.

2.) Prop open all doors to the outside, to rooms and closets, and to the garage to allow water to enter unimpeded.

Equal pressure inside and outside lessens the chance of structural damage to your home from hydrostatic pressure and prevents it from lifting off its foundation or tipping over in most cases.

3.) Use a hammer and cold chisel to knock small holes in your concrete blcok basement walls about 1-foot above ground level to allow water to fill the basement and equalize interior and exterior pressure.

The chisel should be longer than the block is wide.

Holes can be patched after the flood has passed.

4.) If you have time, run tap water into the basement.

This is slower, but is the preferred method because it is cleaner.

5.) Cover glass open windows with cardboard or heavy plastic to prevent shattering and spreading.

6.) Do not obstruct the window openings, or prevent water from passing.

Keep Water out of Basements

1.) Close all windows and doors.

2.) Cover all windows and doors with polyethylene sheet and boards, plywood or previously-fitted closure panels.

3.) Place sandbags and/or shoveled dirt in front of doorways and more vulnerable areas of your home to keep the water away.

Sandbags can be made with burlap or other strong material that will not dissolve in water or break when being carried.

Sandbags can be filled with sand or dirt.

4.) If you have a sump pump, check it to make sure it is operating properly.

A back up valve installed in the sewer line is more expensive, but will not permit the sewer to back up into your basement. A valve should be placed outside your house where it would be easier to install and maintain. A valve can be manual or automatic.



A check valve will permit sewage to flow outward, but not allow backflow.

Unfortunately, a check valve requires a frequent cleaning and maintenance to remain effective which is often beyond the ability of the average homeowner.

Consequently, the reliability of a check valve for residential use is open to question.


A gate valve is a manually operated valve which shuts off backflow and simultaneously shuts down the entire house sewer system.

It does not require frequent cleaning and maintenance.


The dual backflow valve combines the check valve with a manually operated gate valve.

This provides automatic check valve protection combined with the positive operation of the manual gate valve.

This dual option may be expensive.





Since the basement floor drain is the lowest point in your house, it is the first place of entry for backed-up sewers. The drain can be closed with a rubber or wooden plug during heavy rains, which is the simplest and cheapest way to stop sewer backup. Some drains are threaded for a screw-in plug.

However, the sewer could back up into the next higher opening, probably a sink drain or toilet.

A standpipe, or a pipe inserted or screwed into the floor drain, will allow the sewer back up to seek its own level.

This method may be more dependable than a plug that could pop out.

However, it has the same shortcomings as a plug.

Overhead Sewer


An overhead sewer line works like a standpipe by letting water seek its own level within the pipes. Your sewer link would have to be re-built so that all house sewage drains to a pump. Sewage is then pumped up to the height of the sewer system's manhole or inlets. From there, it flows by gravity into the street before it could get high enough to back up into your house.

This is the most expensive, but most dependable and convenient method.


Damage Control

While sewer back up is more common in communities with a combined sanitary and storm sewer system, sewer backup can occur when there are separate systems. Below are instructions on how to fix the 2 most common situations concerning sewer back up:

PROBLEM #1: The sewer lines on your property are broken, clogged with roots or debris or directly connected to your roof or footing drains. When heavy rain occurs, the lines cannot carry the additional water so it backs up into your basement. Tree roots can also become entangled in sewer lines, thus clogging pipes and causing sewer backups.


SOLUTION: If this is the cause of your flooded basement, you can fix the problem relatively easily by contacting a plumber or contractor.

PROBLEM #2: The sewer system cannot handle the extra water during a heavy rain or flood. Because of cross connections, inadequate design, too many new houses or some other reason, the sewer mains become over loaded and back up into your basement.

SOLUTION: If this is the cause of your sewer back up, you can do one of 2 actions.

  • 1.) Let the sewer back up and adjust our basement properly so it is not damaged (look at wet floodproofing section).
  • 2.) Try to keep the sewer from backing up. Refer to our Prevention section.

It is important to know there are both advantages and disadvantages into stopping sewer back up on your own:

Advantages of Stopping Sewer Back Up

1.) Your basement will stay dry (assuming the flood waters do not get in through the walls or windows.)

2.) If water depths are less than a foot, they can be handled cheaply with a plug or a standpipe.

Disadvantages of Stopping Sewer Back Up

1.) Most methods require human intervention.

2.) Overhead sewers require a pump that needs continuous power or a back-up system in case of power failure.

3.) There will be no reduction of regular program insurance rates.

4.) If the pressure is permitted to break the sewer lines or buckle your floor, you may have a more expensive repair job than if your basement was allowed to flood.

5.) Unless you install an overhead system, you cannot use your sewers during high waters.

6.) Because the cheaper methods can cause greater pressures, costs are expensive for the most effective measures. Consult a plumber contractor.

• Check what your local ordinances say about stopping sewer build-up because it may be prohibited.


If you use any of these prevention methods, you should account for two types of water pressure:

PROBLEM #1: Your sewer pipes are probably made of clay and were not designed to operate under pressure. Once they become filled up, a valve or plug could create enough pressure to break the pipe. A standpipe or overhead sewer WILL NOT relieve this pressure.

SOLUTION: The best way to deal with this pressure is to minimize the amount of sewer line exposed to the pressure. This could be done by installing a back up valve near your property line. Of course, this merely transfers the problem to the city. Check with your community before installing a back-up valve because some prohibit them.

PROBLEM #2: If the ground under your house becomes saturated, the water will push up on your basement floor. SOLUTION: The newer the sewer line, the less likely it is to leak. You may want to permit the basement to flood a little to help equalize the pressures on your floors.

 Return to Top 


1.) Disconnect and store small, transportable appliances (toasters, blenders, percolators and other electrical devices) at the highest possible level (second floor or attic). If time permits, wrap these appliances and others in plastic and tie as shown in Figure 3-3.

2.) Seal openings of large appliances with wide tape such as masking or waterproof adhesive tape.

3.) Tie shut and anchor these appliances. Leave them open to allow water into the interior to prevent buoyancy.

     • Top loading dishwashers and clothes washers should first be filled and weighted  down with clean water to prevent buoyancy.

  • Dryers can be weighted down with sandbags.
  • Freezers can be weighted down with food, then sealed and anchored.

4.) Disconnect heavy, unmovable appliances.

  • When elecrtical service is being returned after a flood, all appliances must be disconnected to determine whether any electrical problems are the fault of electrical distribution system or appliance.
  • Due to water debris or wreckage, getting to electrical outlets to disconnect appliance after a flood may be difficult as well as dangerous.

5.) If time and manpower permit, remove electrical motors from washers and dryers.

  • Motors from dishwashers are usually difficult to remove due to their integral attachment to the pump.

6.) Seal these motors in plastic bags and take to a higher level.

  • Motors are sensitive to water and are expensive to recondition.

7.) If a sump pump is used in the basement, remove and store it in a safe, dry place above anticipated flood level.

     • This will make the pump available when you return for use in pumping out any water remaining in the basement.

  • If you have a second floor that is expected to stay dry, carry as many belongings as possible upstairs. However, be careful to not overload it.

8.) If flood water is expected to rise above table height on your first floor, prop open all room doors to the outside and open all windows to allow water to flow freely throughout your home.

  • An equal water level inside and outside will cancel hydrostatic pressure on the walls and floors and decrease chances of major structural damage on your home.
  • A house so filled with water is not likely to lift off its foundation or tip over.



FWPW PublicWorks RBG Seal

 Flood Control Department


Flood Control's vision is to see minimal property damage and no loss of life during flood events.

flood control


  • Monitor and maintain Fort Wayne's 12.3 miles of flood control structures to ensure the residents and property are protected in these areas during a flood emergency.

  • Monitor and maintain Fort Wayne's early flood warning system since this system provides crucial information for the National Weather Service's public watches & warnings and Fort Wayne's flood fighting strategies.

  • Apply for and oversee the completion of approved federal grants, which includes the acquisition and demolition of residential and commercial properties in the floodplain to turn them into flood storage areas.

Goals and Objectives 

  • Analyze repetitive flooding areas after flood emergencies to determine whether we need to update our flood fighting strategies and determine if we need to seek more federal grants to acquire flood prone properties.

  • Research and implement cost effective ways to maintain Fort Wayne's flood control structures and early warning flood system.

  • Partner with local, state and federal agencies to cost share flood prevention programs and projects.

  • Analyze our response to flood emergencies and research ways to improve our response.

  • Monitor and maintain Fort Wayne's early flood warning system since this system provides crucial information for the National Weather Service's public watches & warnings and Fort Wayne's flood fighting strategies

Homeowner Information
Contact Us
  • Patrick Zaharako, City Engineer: 
    • 260-427-1172
    • E-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • City of Fort Wayne Flood Event Hotline:
    • 427-2875



Roads may be closed because they have been damaged and/or are covered by water. Barricades have been placed for your protection. If you come upon a barricade or a flooded road, go another way.


Listen to the radio about what to do, where to go or places to avoid.

Emergency workers will assist people in flooded areas. You can help them by staying off the roads & out of the way.

If you must walk or drive in areas that have been flooded:

Stay on firm ground. Moving water 6 inches deep can sweep you off your feet. Water may be electrically charged from underground/downed power lines.

Avoid walking & driving through flooding. Flooding often erodes roads & walkways, which may cause familiar places to change & hides debris.

Play it safe. Additional flooding or flash floods can occur. If your car stalls in rapidly rising waters, get out immediately & climb to higher ground.

Tips for Staying Healthy

A flood can cause emotional and physical stress. Follow the tips below to help ensure that you and your loved ones remain healthy as you focus on clean up and repair.

Rest often and eat well.

Keep a manageable schedule. Make a list and do jobs one at a time.

Avoid direct contact with flood or backed-up water when possible. Children & pets should not play in or near, or come in contact with flood water.

After cleaning up your home, makes sure to do the following before removing your latex gloves:

Sanitize or dispose of aprons & other clothing worn during clean-up.

Disinfect rubber foot-wear in a bucket using bleach disinfectant.

Disinfect buckets and other such materials used in clean-up before storing them.

Remove latex gloves from the inside-out & wash hands for at least 2 minutes with warm water & a disinfectant soap to assure all skin surfaces are clean of contaminants.

Discuss your concerns with others and seek help. Contact the Red Cross for information on emotional support.

Tips to Clean & Repair Your Home

Turn off the electricity at the main breaker or fuse box, even if the power is off in your community.

While cleaning up flooded areas, wear protective clothing & gear, such as latex & waterproof, impenetrable rubber boots to prevent exposure to sewage.

TIP: Contact the Department of Public Health to receive protective rubber gloves.                   

Use a disinfectant solution of laundry bleach (5.25% hypochlorite) for clean-up.

You can make this solution by mixing 1 part laundry bleach with 9 parts water.

Place all disposables in a sealed bag for garbage collection & removal.

Contact your insurance agent to discuss claims.

Hire clean up/repair contractors.

TIP: If you choose to hire, check references to if see they are qualified. Be wary of people who drive through neighborhoods offering help.

American Red Cross

Contact your local chapter to receive information about resources and assistance that may be available to you:

Provides a voucher to assist with the purchase of new clothing, groceries, essential medications, bedding,  essential furnishings and other items to meet emergency needs.

Includes a mop, broom, bucket and cleaning supplies

BOOK - "Repairing Your Flooded Home":
Available at no charge, this reference book offers educational information to ensure post-flood safety and tips to assist with the clean-up and restoration of  belongings and personal property, as well as offering guidance and "how to" help when handling the following post-flood situations:

 enter your home safely

 protect your home & belongings from further damage

 record damage to support insurance & assistance requests

 check for gas & water leaks

 have service restored

 clean up appliances, furniture, floors & other belongings


Visit the agency links below to access additional flood event information and resources.


Additional Agencies

More Articles ...