Flood preps & emergency raft recommendations

Seeing all of the flooding over the last week has moved prepping for floods to the top of my list of missing items. We are in a flood zone and have insurance. Our house was also built with the first floor 8 feet above the 500 year flood maps and flood vents in the foundation. We have a large stack of pre-prepped sand bags too. Along with power outage, food and fresh water supplies.

However, our location is surrounded by roads below flood level and they are they only exit from our area. High ground is several miles away as the crow flies.

We have an axe for the attic and life vests for the kids. (Life vests for us are on our list.)

One thing I know we’re missing is an emergency raft and paddles. Any recommendations for that? Preferably in the under $200 range?

Any other items specific to flooding, especially flash flooding, that you can think of?

We live in the vicinity of two powerful rivers (one of them dam fed approximately 80 miles upstream) multiple creeks and holding ponds. Good chance for significant debris, chemical, and sewage in flood waters. With enough notice we would evacuate pre-flood. If our home is habitable, we would shelter-in-place. So, for the raft and attic supplies, they would be last resort/caught by surprise/no other options.


  • Comments (13)

    • 2

      Good afternoon Brekke,

      Ref other items specific … especially flash flooding;

      For both kids and parents:

      rubber boots

      over the leather boots, rubber boots (eg at SS, Tractor Supply, web)

      disinfectant sprays in preferred delivery mode eg aersol, manual pump on top, …

      extra socks and flip flops, foot disinfectant spray, foot powder, when changing for whatever destination you make.

      Flood waters are infected.  They passed through or comingled with other waters that went through the hospitals medical waste sections, funeral homes, etc.

      Ref the raft;

      I strongly recommend you make personal contact with area’s eg Coast Guard Auxillery to discuss. Also recommend you personally meet with your insurance rep. This rep can tell you what worked and what didn’t. Talk to area fire station that works water rescues. Just about all areas of our country has unique specifics such as flood currents …… Can you paddle a raft for propulsion in this flood environment ? The fire and rescue folks will get you on the right … won’t say current but rather path for procurement research.

      Remember even splashed flood waters when paddling raft are infected.

      Add much time addressing kids in raft while underway.  Be prepared for the unexpected.  Raft just got punctured from the 2 x 4 with nails floating just below the surface and …

    • 2

      We were taught by our Civil Defence experts to never jump into a boat or inflatable if the water was flowing because you can easily be carried away, Many smaller outboard engines are not poweful enough to overcome fast flowing flood water. Plus you never know whats in the water just under the surface, such as logs, pieces of trees,  power cables etc.   But you could board a boat / inflatable etc tethered securely to your home if its likely to be submerged as a static boyancy aid. But there is still a reasonable risk of flotsam hitting your boat in fast flowing water. Life vests are an absolute esential for such events.

      Are there are concrete or brick multi story structures like multi story car parks near your down you could possibly utilise as soon as flod warning are issued.

    • 5

      While it is above your $200 range, I want to share a $450 Rapid Raft by Uncharted Supply Co. that I saw recently at the Outdoor Retailer Summer 2021 Expo.


      A member of our forum actually has one of these in her work GHB and I think they are super neat. No need for a pump, you just swing it in the air and you are done in seconds.

      Their website claims that it’s the lightest and most packable raft available to the public. Only weighs 3 pounds and can hold 400 pounds.

      • 3

        As inflatable rafts go, that one looks to be a smart solution because of the ability to inflate quickly without a pump. Ones that do require a pump will need electricity to power, which will probably be cut in the case of a hurricane or batteries that will need to be checked often. And still that will take a considerable amount of time to fill. 

        But Gideon, I think you are overlooking that inflatable rafts will not last very long in hurricane or flood torn waters with broken street signs, cars, wood, and many other nasty stuff. It’s only a matter of time before you puncture or slice a hole into it and now you are swimming in that junk. 

        I would stick to a hard shell kayak, canoe, or row boat. They will be much more durable and sturdy than an inflatable.

      • 4

        @Gideon, I jumped onto this thread to suggest the Rapid Raft, but you beat me to it! I agree with Henry’s point about the superiority of hard shelled boats, generally speaking (though it’s amazing the level of abuse big commercial river rafts can take without tearing; I wonder what material they’re made of). I think the advantage of the Rapid Raft is for situations where you may not practically be able to store a larger and sturdier craft— e.g., my office— but don’t want to have to rely on a pump, either. I don’t know how the Rapid Raft compares on price to a hard shell boat, but that might be another reason to get one. If you have preps for hacking your way out of the attic… maybe it’s not crazy to stash a Rapid Raft up there.

        In any case, brekke mentioned kids, so whether it’s a kayak, the Rapid Raft, or something else, you might be needing multiple boats. Test deployments of the Rapid Raft taught my family that it holds one adult and one large dog. We ended up towing my partner across the river as he clung to a pool toy, which was physically challenging for me and for him, and emotionally challenging for the dog. Fortunately, the prepping purpose of this boat is to get ME across the river that runs through our city, as a matter of absolute last resort, since I’m the only one in the family who spends the day across the river from our home. I have a Plan A, B, and C ahead of the raft, but it gives me peace of mind to know it’s there.

      • 2

        Good morning Pnwsarah,

        Ref commercial river rafts;

        Without generalizing,.. many models out there,.. they have some kevlar (anti-bullet vest) and nomex (anti-flame) composites making  the raft’s hulls.

        There are now compressed gas cartridge pumps. They are for commercial/industrial market; expensive.

        During and immediately after any hurricane, it is dangerous and not prudent to work in or travel in flood waters. We see the exceptions during some rescues by boat. Governing word is “exceptions”. The preexisting wound that will not routinely heal could be related to infected flood waters aggrivating the otherwise healing injury.

        Ref “multiple boats”; Our Zodiac (19 ft) can be / will be towing 2 large life rafts with augmenting supplies for Zodiac or passangers to include injured ones.  Pregnancy is not an injury but we’ve had a young pregnant woman as a passanger once. This is NOT for hurricane evacs by water.  It’s arrangement for wildfires.

    • 3

      Hi brekke, I shared this on another thread and Henry recommended I copy it over to this one:

      I’m a fan of inflatable kayaks, for fun of course, but super practical too. Cheap, sturdy, light & easy to manage, and they take up very little storage space. If you’re not too big, you can take some gear in them, tucked under front & back flaps. We have several of this one and have talked several friends into them also. Saw prices for them up to $160, so they’re a great buy now at only $80 & change.

      We’ve taken them out several times and have had no problems, even dragging along some rocky bottoms, etc. They float nice & high, so can navigate waters only about 8 inches deep, (clip on fin starts scraping at about that depth, and if heavily loaded I would expect you’d need deeper water.)

      Note that this one has an upper weight limit of only 220 pounds. And of course, common sense would be needed if there’s current, turbulence, and sharp debris in the water, likely best in calm, relatively settled waters. Full set up in 10 min  max, and I (small, middle aged gal) can easily manage full set up, carry & launch without help.)

    • 4

      Thank you all for your thoughtful responses and recommendations. I ended up researching the area more and discovered that our risk of catastrophic “climb on the roof” style flooding would require a Noah level event in for our home. It’s a newer build and the development was raised an average of 8-10 ft above 500 yr flood levels and additional flood mitigation drainage ditches and holding ponds were added. Our home is also raised another 2.5 ft on a concrete foundation with flood vents. 

      We may look into the raft and kayak recommendations for recreation and to have at our evacuation destination though. There’s a small river near there that we can practice on and they might come in handy for travel should we ever need to evacuate and roads aren’t passable. 

    • 7

      I just want to say how grateful I am for this site and this Forum. I was getting very tempted to buy an inflatable raft for hurricane preparedness (and also because – gear! I love gear!)  After reading this thread, though, I realized that all it will do is tempt me to do something stupid.  I had never even thought about the raft tearing from all the junk floating around.  I absolutely see the logic of pnwsarah needing one to get back across the river should an earthquake take down the bridge. But for my particular scenarios, planning to

      a) avoid the floodwaters to begin with and

      b) be patient and wait for professionals if I do get surrounded by floodwaters

      is clearly the best choice for now.  Having the raft would serve only to make me or one of the less-prepared members of my family get tempted to be dumb and end up infected, electrocuted, or who knows what (eaten by an alligator? ha) after a hurricane. 

      • 4

        I heartily agree! If flash-flood waters are so high that you need a boat, then they will probably be strong enough to push you around pretty good. It’s hard to control a raft in fast water.

        Unless you have solid river-running skills, it would be dodgy. And if you do have swift-water experience, you’ll know stay out of the water if you can possibly help it.

        On the other hand, I’m impressed with the amount of thought and research and supplying that you’ve already done! I’m inspired!

      • 2

        Thank you for your kind words M.E., isn’t this forum great!? So much valuable information from so many perspectives. Bouncing ideas off of people has helped me to save money, time, and save myself from doing something unsafe like you mentioned.

      • 2

        You are very kind to offer a carve out for my circumstances, but I’m pretty convinced that taking any raft across the river post-earthquake would be little more than a surefire way to die. I bought one anyway more on the off-chance that circumstances align perfectly and it’s useable safely, but the best use-cases for it are summer recreation and workday peace of mind. 🙂

    • 5

      There are a couple of RIBs shown in posts, avoid these unless they have a gunwale to mount an outboard motor, multiple cells that inflate independently and a hard floor (sectional or otherwise) Submerged obstructions can easily be sharp enough to cause injury through the bottom of the boat. There is no way you’re going to get that for under $200 so it may be better to concentrate on personal flotation devices (life vests) and a EPIRB (electronic beacon) to call for help.
      If you evacuate your home in a substandard flotation device you may very quickly find yourself in a far worse situation.
      I know it’s an strange idea when surrounded by water but in situations like this clean drinking water is your priority. Stored water or a reliable method of collecting, filtering and treating water are going to be necessary. Be aware that the water surrounding you is likely to contain raw sewage.