Last month, we talked about the snowfall and snow conditions for snowmobilers and other winter enthusiasts. Now, all that snow has to melt and go somewhere. This month our focus quickly changes to flooding.

The National Weather Service has released its first spring flood outlook and our heavy snowpack means the potential for rising rivers and streams is elevated. Potential impacts could vary depending on how fast we warm up over the next two months and, of course, how much more snow or rain we get. Another factor on river flooding is ice buildup and ice jams, which can cause rivers and flowages to back up and enter basements and other structures quickly.

As a Minnesota homeowner, you don't need to wait for the flooding to happen to take action. Now is the time to get sewer/water backup on your homeowners' insurance and a separate flood insurance policy-before the waters rise!

Spring and summer rainfalls can be heavy and can produce flash floods in a matter of hours.

Together with Minnesota Homeland Security and Emergency Management, we offer some common sense preparations everyone can take to reduce their risks from harm and property destruction. The following lists a few steps everyone can take to prepare for any type of flood emergency:

• Assemble an emergency supply kit that includes enough provisions for you and your family to live on for a minimum of three days.

• Make an emergency plan for you and your family and share it with them.

• Learn about the emergency plans that have been established in your area by your state and local government.

• Get a NOAA Weather Radio. Listen for information and warnings.

• Elevate appliances such as the furnace, water heater and electric panel in your home if you live in an area that has a high flood risk.

• Consider installing "check valves" to prevent flood water from backing up into the drains of your home. As a last resort, use large corks or stoppers to plug showers, tubs or basins.

• If feasible, construct barriers to stop floodwater from entering the building and seal walls in basements with waterproofing compounds.

• Get flood insurance. Property insurance does not typically cover flood damage. Talk to your insurance provider about your policy and consider if you need additional coverage. You may also want to learn about the National Flood Insurance Program at www.FloodSmart.gov

The Cass County Sheriff's Office and Emergency Management Office will be monitoring spring flooding risks and assessments. We will be watching known problem areas and working with other area officials as problems arise to determine what action should be taken. We will notify residents of any emergency flooding concerns through News Release, NIXLE and social media. As always you are our best eyes and ears. If you start seeing a problem, report it to us so that we can get ahead of the potential disaster.

National Weather Service SKYWARN programs will again be offered in Cass County this spring:

• 6 p.m. Friday, April 5, Sylvan Township Hall, 12956 24th Ave. SW, Pillager, MN 56473

• 6-8 p.m. Monday, April 15, Tribal Justice Center, 200 Sailstar Drive NE, Cass Lake, MN 56633

If you have specific questions that you would like answered in this column or in person, please feel free to contact me anytime using one of the following methods: by email at tom.burch@co.cass.mn.us; by phone at 218-547-1424 or 800-450-2677; or by mail or in person at the Cass County Sheriff's Office, 303 Minnesota Ave. W, P.O. Box 1119, Walker, MN, 56484.