Floods are one of the most common hazards in the United States. Flood effects can be local, impacting small neighborhoods and communities, or very large, affecting entire river basins and multiple states.
Some floods develop slowly, sometimes over a period of days. Flash floods develop quickly, sometimes in just a few minutes and without any visible signs of rain. Flash floods often have a dangerous wall of roaring water that carries rocks, mud and other debris and can sweep away most things in its path. Overland flooding occurs outside a defined river or stream, such as a flood caused by a breached levee. Flooding can also occur when a dam breaks, producing dangers similar to flash floods.
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 streambeds and low-lying ground that appear harmless in dry weather can flood.
Flood Safety Procedures
- If you build your home in a flood plain, elevate and reinforce the house.
- Keep your furnace, water heater and electrical panel elevated if you are in an area susceptible to flooding.
- Construct barriers to keep floodwaters from entering your home.
- Listen to the radio or TV for information.
- In the case of a flash flood, move immediately to higher ground. Do not wait for instructions to move.
- Be aware of streams, drainage channels, canyons and other areas known to flood suddenly.
In evacuation situations:
- Secure your home. If you have time, bring in outdoor furniture and move essential items to an upper floor.
- 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.
- Do not walk through moving water. Six inches of moving water can knock you off your feet. 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.
- Do not drive into flooded areas. If floodwaters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground if you can do so safely. You and the vehicle can be quickly swept away.
Driving Flood Facts
The following are important points to remember when driving in flood conditions:
- 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.
- Two feet of rushing water can carry most vehicles, including sport utility vehicles (SUV’s) and pick-ups.
- Find out if the water supply is safe to drink before consuming water.
- Avoid floodwaters as they may be contaminated.
- Also avoid moving water.
- Do not drive through floodwater or in areas where the water may have receded. These areas can be fragile and susceptible to collapsing under your vehicle’s weight.
- Only return home after authorities have instructed you to do so.
- Do not enter a building surrounded by floodwaters.
- Be very careful when entering a building damaged by floodwaters. Hidden damage is likely and can be extremely dangerous.
- Repair damaged sewage systems as they can cause serious health risks.
- Clean and disinfect everything that got wet during the flood because the floodwater may be contaminated.
- Don’t forget to use the Citizen’s Information Line at 407.246.4268 for recovery information.