Severe Weather Guide - Floods
Flooding is the nation's most common severe weather natural disaster. Flooding can happen in every U.S. state and territory. However, not all floods are alike. Some can develop slowly during an extended period of rain, or in a warming trend following a heavy snow. Others, such as flash floods, can occur quickly, even without any visible signs of rain. It's important to be prepared for flooding no matter where you live. but particularly if you are in a low lying area, near water or downstream from a dam. Even a very small stream or dry creek bed can overflow and create flooding. Our Severe Weather Preparedness Guide covers the three major severe weather events - Tornadoes, Floods, and Hurricanes.
Download the Severe Weather Guide
Before a Flood
To prepare for a flood, you should:
- Avoid building in a floodprone area unless you elevate and reinforce your home.
- Elevate the furnace, water heater, and electric panel if susceptible to flooding.
- Install "check valves" in sewer traps to prevent floodwater from backing up into the drains of your home.
- Contact community officials to find out if they are planning to construct barriers (levees, beams, floodwalls) to stop floodwater from entering the homes in your area.
- Seal the walls in your basement with waterproofing compounds to avoid see page.
- Learn to swim.
During a Flood
If a flood is likely in your area, you should:
- Listen to the radio or television for information.
- Be aware that flash flooding can occur. If there is any possibility 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. Flash floods can occur in these areas with or without such typical warnings as rain clouds or heavy rain.
If you must prepare to evacuate, you should do the following:
- Secure your home. If you have time, bring in outdoor furniture. 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.
If you have to leave your home, remember these evacuation tips:
- Do not walk through moving water. Six inches of moving water can make you fall. If you have to 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 away most vehicles including sport utility vehicles (SUV’s) and pick-ups.
After a Flood
The following are guidelines for the period following a flood:
- Listen for news reports to learn whether the community’s water supply is safe to drink.
- Avoid floodwaters; water may be contaminated by oil, gasoline, or raw sewage. Water may also be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.
- Avoid moving water.
- Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded. Roads may have weakened and could collapse under the weight of a car.
- Stay away from downed power lines, and report them to the power company.
- Return home only when authorities indicate it is safe.
- Stay out of any building if it is surrounded by floodwaters.
- Use extreme caution when entering buildings; there may be hidden damage, particularly in foundations.
- Service damaged septic tanks, cesspools, pits, and leaching systems as soon as possible. Damaged sewage systems are serious health hazards.
- Clean and disinfect everything that got wet. Mud left from floodwater can contain sewage and chemicals.
All information above is from FEMA's website under disaster and emergency preparedness.
For more information and resources on Flood Preparedness, please visit the web sites below.
US Department of Homeland Security - FEMA
FEMA Flood Insurance Program
FEMA “Are you Ready?” Online Publication – An in-depth 204-page guide to emergency preparedness.
US National Weather Service - NOAA
NOAA - Flood Watch
American Red Cross
American Red Cross Flood Preparedness
American Red Cross Preparedness Checklists
Ready Gov - Flood Preparedness
CDC - Center For Disease Control and Prevention
CDC - Flood Preparedness