Flood Preparation

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Make a plan for floods before the water starts coming.
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Get a plan for disasters with “Your Emergency Game Plan” by Shawn L. Tipping, Sarah E. Tipping, and Robert D. Harris.

Your Emergency Game Plan by Shawn L. Tipping, Sarah E. Tipping, and Robert D. Harris helps prepare you for emergency situations. Learn what steps you can take before and during an emergency to minimize harm. This excerpt from chapter 12 addresses steps that you can take to prepare for a flood.

Many things cause floods to occur, including sustained heavy rain, large ocean waves coming to land, fast melting snow, and levees or dams that give way.  Sometimes flooding can be just a few inches and sometimes it can be several feet. 

Floods are the most common severe weather-related disaster in the U.S., but one that many assume will affect the “other guy.” With their risks misunderstood or ignored, floods also are the most expensive and deadly natural disasters. From rapid snowmelt to burst dams, hurricanes to major rainstorms, flooding affects many. But, floods don’t have to be catastrophic to do harm.  Just a few inches of water can cause thousands of dollars in damages in the average home.

Flooding occurs in all states and each year kills more people than lightning, tornadoes, and hurricanes combined. However, typical homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage.

Preparing for floods requires much consideration.  Evacuation is usually a great idea, especially if you can leave town far in advance.  If you are forced to drive, remember that even a small amount of flood water, as little as six inches, can sweep most cars and trucks off the road. Insurance company experts believe that close to $5 billion dollars’ worth of property is destroyed by flooding each year.

Historically most devastating U.S. floods:

2005: Hurricane Katrina caused widespread flooding with a storm surge that most likely exceeded 25 feet.  Estimates were well over $80 billion in damage and 1,800 fatalities from the storm and subsequent flooding.

1976: Just one foot of rain in Colorado’s Big Thompson Canyon created a massive 19-foot high torrent of water that killed 145 people.

1971: Buffalo Creek Dam in West Virginia gave way and killed over 100.

1889: The worst flood in the United States history in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.  A flood ravaged the town killing around 2,200 citizens.

Types of floods:

• River: Water rises above the top of river banks.
• Coastal: Land along the coast experiences higher than usual tides.
• Storm Surge: Caused by severe storm’s wind, waves, and low pressure.
• Inland: Heavy rain falls for a short time and is mixed with a dam or levee failures.
• Flash: Raging torrents of water caused by massive rainfall. 

Steps you can take before a flood:

• Learn the differences between flood watches, flash flood watches, flood warnings, and flash flood warnings.
• Find out what your community disaster managers have planned.
• Make sure you have a family communication plan developed, and everyone knows how it works.
• Have your evacuation plan ready to go and practice it on a regular basis.
• Know where the nearest high ground is in case you are in a rush to flee rising water.
• Keep your car’s fuel tank near full at all times.
• Check the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Interactive Flood Information Map, which contains searchable data about floods over the past few years.
• Learn what a flood could cost you by using the Interactive tool at www.floodsmart.gov.

Steps you can take during a flood:

• Do not try to drive on flooded roadways.
• Disconnect all of your appliances and turn your utilities off.
• Tune into your NOAA weather radio and listen for evacuation orders or any other information on plans.
• Evacuate as soon as possible.

When a river reaches a flood stage, the following terms may indicate the likelihood of flooding:

Minor: very little or no damage to property.
Moderate: evacuations may be needed in areas close to rivers. Some homes and businesses will likely sustain damage.
Major: high degree of damage to roads and structures.  Large scale evacuations may be enforced.

More from Your Emergency Game Plan:

Prepare for Tornadoes
Winter Storm Preparation
Severe Thunderstorm Preparation

Reprinted with permission fromYour Emergency Game Planby Shawn L. Tipping, Sarah E. Tipping, and Robert D. Harris, and published by Game Plan Preppers LLC © 2016.

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