Flooding can occur without warning and is especially dangerous for several reasons. It can wash away vehicles and mobile homes and cause extensive property damage. Seniors and individuals who need special assistance or cannot swim face a heightened risk of drowning. Finally, downed power lines can fall into pools of water and cause electrocution.


Familiarize yourself with the following terms to stay alert and prepared.

  • Flood/Flash Flood Watch - conditions are favorable for flooding in the next day or two. Flash floods occur very quickly, usually as a result of heavy rainfall in a short period of time.

  • Flood Warning - flooding is expected to threaten life and property a few hours after the onset of heavy rain, ice jams, reservoir releases or snowmelt. Flood warnings may be in effect for days or even weeks depending on weather and soil conditions, land topography, and river size.

  • Flash Flood Warning - rapidly rising water which poses an immediate threat to life and property within a few hours due to small stream or urban flooding and dam or levee failures. Quickly move to higher ground or stay away from flooded areas - especially in vehicles.

  • Flood Statement - ponding of water in urban areas or minor flooding of streams is occurring. Also used to convey supplemental information, updated observations, and impact information for Flood Warnings.

Before a flood

Avoid building in a floodplain 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 your home.
  • Construct barriers (levees, beams, sandbags, floodwalls) to stop floodwater from entering the building.
  • Seal walls in basements with waterproofing compounds to avoid seepage.

Keep an adequate supply of food, drinking water, and flashlights (with extra batteries) in case you are trapped inside your home.


During a flood

  • Seek higher ground. Do not wait for instructions.
  • Be aware of flash flood areas such as canals, streams, drainage channels, and underpasses.
  • Be ready to evacuate with your Go Bag.
  • If time allows, move essential items to upper floors.
  • If instructed, turn off main valves and switches. Avoid electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.
  • If you must leave your home, do not walk through moving water. Six inches of moving water can knock you off your feet.

Do not try to drive over a flooded road. If your vehicle stalls, abandon it immediately.


After a flood

  • Avoid floodwaters. Do not let children play in the water.
  • Be aware of areas where water has receded. Roadways may have weakened and could collapse.
  • Avoid downed power lines and muddy water where power lines may have fallen.
  • Return home only when authorities say it is safe to do so.
  • Discard food that may have been contaminated.
  • Check on sewage systems. If damaged, these can be a serious hazard.

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