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Are You Ready Series: Floods and Flash Flooding

[1]In the Spring, many parts of the country experience their rainy season, and with that comes the possibility of flash floods.  This type of emergency is one of the most common hazards in the United States that can be felt locally or have a larger impact on cities and even states.  The damage done by floods does not only encompass damaged homes and property but can displace families permanently – even in the safety of your home.

Educating yourself on knowing the warning signs of flooding and what to do in times of floods can help you better prepare your family and your home when a flood is imminent.

All Floods Are Not Created Equal

Those that live in low lying areas or floodplains are more susceptible to flooding.  Different types of flooding can affect these floodplains.  There are floods that can develop slowly, giving people time to prepare, and evacuate, if necessary; and there are floods that can develop quickly, sometimes in just a few minutes and without any visible signs of rain.

Source [2]

Be aware of flood hazards no matter where you live, but especially if you live in a low-lying area, near water or downstream from a dam. Even very small streams, gullies, creeks, culverts, dry stream beds, or low-lying ground that appear harmless in dry weather can flood. Every state is at risk from this hazard.

Familiarize yourself with these terms to help identify a flood hazard:

How to Prepare for Floods

In all honesty, it is difficult to prepare for how much flooding your home may have. It could be a slow trickle or water levels could reach much higher levels. It is largely dependent on if you live in a flood plain. To start your preparedness efforts with this type of disaster, your best bet is to plan for the worst case scenario. Worst case scenarios such as evacuation, family displacement and/or property damage.

Evacuation – Time is of the essence when an emergency evacuation is concerned. Turn off utilities at the main switches or valves if instructed to do so. Disconnect electrical appliances. Do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water. Using this evacuation checklist [3] and keeping your bug out bags on stand by and having your vehicle bug out ready [4] are the most basic ways one can prepare for flash flooding. Additionally, having your important documents in place, or backed up [5] on a flash drive.

Those who feel that they will just ride out the storm and take their chances should be informed that if your city or town is under forced evacuations, according to the Disaster Evacuation and Displacement Policy, the government has the right to force someone out of their home:

“Dependent upon state and local law, [the local executive] has extraordinary powers to suspend local laws and ordinances, such as to establish curfew, direct evacuations, and, in coordination with the local health authority, to order a quarantine.”

Source [6]

Family displacement – On average, 27 million people a year lost their homes to natural disasters over the last decade. A majority of those affected were living in developing countries, however, disasters in America were also counted in this number. When families are displaced, they are essentially starting over. Helping families get assistance through emergency organizations can help them start rebuilding their lives. Knowing these organizations ahead of time can be helpful in dealing with the aftermath of the disaster. Having these relief organizations and their phone numbers in your emergency binder will be beneficial in staying organized.

Property damage – To avoid property damage from flooding, here are some tips to keep in mind:

During a Flood

If a flood is likely in your area, you should:

If you must leave your home, remember these evacuation tips:

Driving Flood Facts

The following are important points to remember when driving in flood conditions:

After a Flood

The following are guidelines for the period following a flood:

Source [8]

Additional Resources:

Teach kids about flooding [9]

Repairing your flooded home [10]