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Floods

Floods are one of the most common hazards in the United States. Flood effects can be local, impacting a neighborhood or community, or very large, affecting entire cities, river basins and multiple states. To assist you with your flood emergency preparedness planning, review the following information.

However, all floods are not alike. Some floods develop slowly, sometimes over a period of days. But flash floods can develop quickly, in as little as minutes and without any visible signs of rain. Flash floods often have a dangerous wall of water that carries rocks, mud and other debris that can destroy anything in its path.

Flooding can occur when rivers or streams exceed their banks, or levees are breached. Excessive rainfall in a short period may also stress local drainage systems leading to localized flooding. Dams may also fail causing flooding. Be aware of the potential flood hazards where you live, especially if you live in a low-lying area, near water or downstream of a dam and maintain adequate survival gear.

Familiarize yourself with these terms to help identify a hurricane hazard.
  • Familiarize yourself with these terms to help identify a flood hazard.
    • Flood Watch - Flooding is possible. Tune in to National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.
    • Flash Flood Watch - Flash flooding is possible. Be prepared to move to higher ground; listen to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.
    • Flood Warning - Flooding is occurring or will occur soon; if advised to evacuate, do so immediately.
    • Flash Flood Warning - A flash flood is occurring; seek higher ground on foot immediately.

If you must evacuate, part of your emergency preparedness plan should include being able to:

  • Secure your home or office. If you have time move important items and furniture to upper floors.
  • Turn off utilities (gas, water, electrical) at the main valves/switches if instructed to do so. Disconnect electrical appliances only if you are not standing in water!
  • Grab your survival gear.
  • DO NOT walk through moving water. Six inches of water can make you lose your footing and fall. If you must walk in water, walk where the water is not moving. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you before stepping forward.
  • DO NOT drive into flooded areas. If flood waters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground if you can do so safely. Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars causing loss of control and possible stalling. A foot of water will float many vehicles and two feet of rushing water can carry most vehicles downstream, including SUVs and pick-up trucks.

 



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