Preparing for floods
Different types of floods
In 2020, the United States saw 59 fatalities related to flooding. Over the past 11 years, 1,101 people have been fatally injured by some sort of flooding, whether that be flash flooding, river flooding, coastal flooding, storm surges, or inland flooding. Flash flooding occurs when excessive rainfall amounts fall in an area for a short period of time. In some cases flash flooding can occur because of a dam or levee failure. River flooding comes about when water levels rise
above river banks during weather events that cause excessive amounts of rainfall. This can be attributed to tropical storms, snowmelt, thunderstorms that are over an area for hours on end, or something like an ice jam. Coastal flooding is caused by higher than average high tides impacting an area. Coastal flooding can become much more serious if additional rainfall occurs and onshore winds strengthen. Storm surges are an unusual rise of water that is generated by
storms such as hurricanes. Storm surges rise above the predicted tide wave and can cause significant flooding to low-lying areas. Finally, inland flooding occurs when intense precipitation occurs over an area in a short amount of time or a river overflows because of ice or debris.
Preparing for flooding
When preparing for flooding, you must first understand the flooding risk in your community. You can obtain information about flood zones in your community by talking to a floodplains manager or by using FEMA's Flood Map Service Center. [click here] Alternatively, some cities may have a flood zone map on their government website. Next, make sure to have a NOAA Weather Radio and alerts on your phone activated to
be able to receive flood warnings. Cities like Norman, Oklahoma, have a text-based alert system that the general public can sign up for. This text-based alert system will send out watches and warnings during severe weather events. This includes flooding events. During events where precipitation is falling quite heavily, be sure to monitor rainfall amounts. Understanding the flood stage for your area can also be beneficial as it will allow you to
evacuate much more sooner if needed. If you live on a floodplain or area that significantly floods on a regular basis then you need to have an evacuation plan. This should include moving to higher ground away from the flooding and to a mass care shelter or another place of residence until the flooding has diminished. Have more than one route in the event that a route has become impassible because of floodwaters. Be sure to create an
Emergency Preparedness Kit so that you have resources when you evacuate in the event that your home becomes destroyed by floodwaters. You can learn how to create an EPK by visiting this link. [click here] If you live in a flood-prone area, it's highly recommended that you have flood insurance on your insurance policy. In any case, flood insurance should be on your policy as flooding can happen anywhere. This will help you in the event that you need to replace items or an entire house that was destroyed by flooding. If you have important
documents that need to be saved, make sure they are secured in a waterproof container that is well above the flood zone for your home. If possible, try to make copies of the documents and store them digitally in the event that they are lost in a flood. Elevate or move water heaters, washers, dryers, and other major appliances to an area that is 2 inches higher than the flood zone in your home. Have sandbags not just for protecting the outside of your home, but also for the
doors on the inside. This will keep water from temporarily or permanently going into other rooms. Reposition wall plugs above the flood zone, this is important because if water enters the outlets all of the electrical components will have to be replaced and that can be very costly. Finally, consider changing your flooring to a material that is more resistant to flooding such as linoleum, tile, or hardwood floors installed on concrete. Try and stay away from carpet as that is destructive in flooding.
About the writer: Michael Thornton is a recent Emergency Management graduate at Rose State College with a certificate in Emergency Planning & Preparedness. He has a background in meteorological studies and is a NOAA Weather-Ready Nation ambassador who works with individuals, businesses, and governments to create more disaster-resilient communities.