Flooding is the most common natural disaster in the United States and can happen anywhere. Flooding can occur during any season, but some areas of the country are at greater risk at certain times of the year. It is particularly important to be prepared for flooding if you live in a low-lying area near a body of water, such as a river, stream, or culvert; along a coast; or downstream from a dam or levee.
What Causes Flooding?
Flooding can occur in several ways:
Rivers and lakes cannot contain excessive rain or snowmelt
Excessive rain or snowmelt cannot be fully absorbed into the ground
Waterways are blocked with debris or ice and overflow
Water containment systems break, such as levees, dams, or water or sewer systems
The speed and duration of flooding can vary significantly:
Flooding can occur slowly as rain continues to fall for many days. This type of flooding, sometimes called a slow-onset flood, can take a week to develop and can last for months before floodwaters recede.
Rapid-onset floods occur more quickly, typically developing within hours or days. These types of floods usually occur in smaller watersheds experiencing heavy rainfall, particularly in mountainous and urban areas, and the water usually recedes within a few days
- Go to Flood Smart to check your property's flood hazard rating.
- Contact your insurance agent to find out what coverage you have or may need.
- Develop a family emergency plan (include family pets) and practice your family emergency evacuation routes.
- Help prevent localized flooding by clearing debris from gutters, downspouts and storm drains.
- Anchor any fuel tanks to prevent them from being torn free by floodwaters. Unanchored fuel tanks can cause contamination on your property and possibly add to community contamination.
- If your furnace, water heater, washer and dryer are in the basement or flood prone area, place them on masonry blocks or concrete at least 12-inches above the projected flood elevation.
If the City posts a flood warning for your neighborhood, that means flooding will soon occur or is already occurring in that city area. If you are advised to evacuate, please do so immediately. Follow these tips to stay safe:
You may be instructed to turn off all utilities at the main power switch and close the main gas valve at your property.
DO NOT attempt to drive through a flooded road. DO NOT drive around a barricade. Roads may be washed out under flood waters. Barricades are positioned to keep you safe. Turn Around, Don't Drown!
Stay away from downed power lines and electrical wires. Electric current passes easily through water and can be deadly.
It is dangerous to walk through flooded areas. As little as six inches of moving water can knock over an adult! Most flood fatalities occur in vehicles - only twelve inches can carry away a small vehicle.
Floodwaters may be contaminated with raw sewage, chemical waste and other disease-spreading substances. If you've come in contact with floodwaters, wash your hands with soap and disinfected water.
(Source: FEMA: How To Prepare For a Flood)