Floods and Flash Floods
Each year, more deaths occur due to flooding than from any other severe weather-related hazard. Why? The main reason is people underestimate the force and power of water. Many of the deaths occur in automobiles as they are swept downstream. Of these drownings, many are preventable, but too many people continue to drive around the barriers that warn you the road is flooded.
Whether you are driving or walking, if you come to a flooded road, the National Weather Service advises you to “Turn Around — Don’t Drown.”
The two key ingredients that contribute to flash flooding are rainfall intensity and duration — the rate of the rainfall and how long the rain lasts. Other factors include topography, soil conditions and ground cover.
Flash floods can occur within minutes or hours of excessive rainfall. Most flash flooding is caused by slow-moving thunder-storms or storms repeatedly moving over the same area.
You should know the potential for flooding or flash flooding in your neighborhood. Even six inches of fast-moving floodwater can knock you off your feet, and a depth of two feet will float your car.
Never try to walk, swim or drive through floodwaters. If you live within a flood plain, contact your insurance agent and verify that you carry flood insurance on your property.
Before a flood:
- When you receive a flood warning and if advised to evacuate, do so immediately!
- Move to a safe area before access is cut off by floodwater.
- Continue monitoring weather radio, television, or Emergency Alert System (EAS) for information.
During a flood:
- Avoid areas subject to sudden flooding.
- If you come upon a flowing stream where water is above your ankles, STOP! Turn around and go another way.
- Do not attempt to drive over a flooded road. The depth of the water is not always obvious. The roadbed may be washed out under the water, and you could be stranded or trapped.
- Children should NEVER play around high water, storm drains, viaducts or creeks, etc.
After a flood:
- If fresh food has come in contact with floodwaters, throw it out.
- Boil drinking water at least three to five minutes then let cool before using. Wells should be pumped out and the water tested for purity before drinking. If in doubt, call your local health authority.
- Electrical equipment should be checked and dried before being returned to service.
- Use flashlights, not lanterns, torches or matches to examine buildings. Flammables may be inside.
- Report any broken utility lines to the appropriate authorities.
- Learn more about cleaning flood damage and repairing your home from this publication by the University of Missouri Extension.
For more information, visit www.weather.gov/floodsafety.