Surface water, run off, basement flooding, call it what you will, the type of rain and storms which occurred in the Rocky Mountain Region recently have given quite a bit of anguish and headaches to any party that had property effected by water entering the building envelope.
Surface water should not to be confused by ground water. Ground water generally means waters from a fluctuating water table. Most issues from torrential rains creates potential for surface water/flooding. Unfortunately for most insured this may not be covered by standard insurance policies (always best to check with an insurance agent for full details). This creates large headaches for an insurer as many people could be disgruntled no coverage and time spent processing the inquiries.
Listed here are some general ways the majority of water entering into a basement can be avoided and in many cases, eliminated. For the most part, the best way is to ensure surface water is moved away from the foundation. Some way include

  1. Make sure your roof guttering system is moving the water away from the discharge area. Usually gutter extensions perform this quite well.
  2. Make sure your gutters are cleaned out. When a gutter gets clogged, the discharge of water will be in an unwanted place.
  3. As buildings mature, there is a tendency for the soils to compress or compact. This becomes an issue if the soils close to the foundation settle, creating a negative water flow (toward the foundation). Landscaping the area to create a positive flow away from the building alleviates many of the surface water entry issues.
  4. Create a vegetation free zone 3-4 feet around the perimeter of the structure. In many locales this is part of the building code, to have no plants or watering in this 3 foot area.

Ground water. This is a large topic and not within the scope of this article. One recommendation is to regularly check your sump pump, if you have one. This was generally installed to discharge water which may be from a rising water table.
With some proactive effort, the majority of surface water flooding can be avoided.