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Floods are one of the most common hazards in the United States.

Floods can be local, impacting a neighborhood or community.

Floods can be very large, affecting entire river basins and multiple states.

Not all Floods are Alike

♦ Some floods develop slowly, sometimes over a period of several days.

Flash floods develop quickly, sometimes in just a few minutes and

without any visible signs of rain. Flash floods often have a dangerous wall

of roaring water that carries rocks, mud, and other debris and can sweep away most things in its path.

Overland flooding occurs outside a defined river or stream, such as when

a levee is breached, but still can be destructive.

♦ Flooding can also occur when a dam breaks, producing effects similar to flash floods.

Every state is at risk from this hazard, so no matter where you live, be aware of flood hazards 

especially if you live in a low-lying area, near water or downstream from a dam. 

Even very small streams, gullies, creeks, culverts, dry stream beds, or low-lying ground 

that appear harmless in dry weather can flood.

Terms that will help identify a flood hazard:

Flood Watch:

Flooding is possible. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio,

or television for information.

Flash Flood Watch:

Flash flooding is possible.

Be prepared to move to higher ground; listen to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, 

or television for information.

Flood Warning:

Flooding is occurring or will occur soon; if advised to evacuate,

do so immediately.

Flash Flood Warning:

A flash flood is occurring; seek higher ground on foot immediately.

(Many people cannot remember the difference between a Watch and a Warning. 

Try using the following to help you.

A Warning is Happening. Both end in "ing".

A Watch is something you cannot see, so you have to Watch for it:

Wait and Watch to see if it happens.)

Before a Flood

♦ Check with your insurance agent to make sure your home is covered for floods.

♦ Make sure your foundation is "waterproofed" or "water sealed", especially

if you have a basement. This will help avoid seepage.

You can consult a professional builder to help you with this.

♦ If you are building a home, avoid building it in a flood plain.

If this is not possible, make sure the house is elevated and reinforced.

♦ If you live in a flood prone area, elevate your furnace, water heater

and electrical panel.

♦ Install "check valves" in your sewer traps. This will prevent flood water

from backing up into your drains.

♦ To help stop flood water from entering your home, you can build barriers

such as flood walls, levees or beams.

♦ As part of your Disaster Plan, find out where the flooding problems are likely

to occur. Know where the canyons, streams and drainage channels are.

Know what areas are likely to flood quickly.

♦ Take a CPR and First Aid class. 

If flooding occurs, and there is a medical emergency, Emergency personnel may not be able to reach you.

If a Flood is Likely in your Area

♦ Be informed. Listen to the news for updates on the weather.

♦ If there is a possibility of Flash Flooding, do not wait. 

Move to higher ground immediately. 

If you wait for the authorities to tell you to evacuate, it may be too late.

♦ Remember where your "hazard spots" are (the areas that may flood).

Flash floods can occur in your area with or without the typical warning signs such as rain clouds or heavy rain. Flash floods can come from "uphill" and travel distances very quickly, picking up debris along its path.

Preparing to Evacuate

♦ If you have time, secure your home. 

Move essential items to an upper floor. 

Bring in outdoor furniture and anything else that would be washed away.

♦ If you evacuate, close all doors and windows to help keep debris and water out.

♦ If instructed to do so, turn off your utilities at the main switch.

Disconnect your electrical appliances. 

Do not touch any electrical equipment if you are wet, or are standing in water.

If You Leave Your Home

Do not walk through moving water! 

As little as six inches of moving water can make you fall. 

Walk where the water is not moving. 

Use a stick (such as a cane, or a broom or mop) to check the ground's firmness in front of you.

Do not drive into flooded areas! 

Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars. 

This will cause the loss of control and possible stalling out of the engine. 

Moving water can quickly sweep your car away.

If flood water rises around your car, and only if it is safe, abandon your car

and move to higher ground.

A foot of water will float most vehicles.

Two feet of rushing water can carry away most cars.

This includes larger vehicles such as pickup trucks and SUVs.

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