Floods – The Most Frequent and Costly Weather Related Disaster in the U.S.

The following information presented by the American Red Cross aims to help individuals and families be prepared in the event of a flood in their area:

You may find it surprising that floods are the most frequent and costly natural disaster.  It may also shock you that floods and flash floods cause the most fatalities out of all other natural disasters in the nation. Knowledge and preparedness measures are the best way to keep your families safe in the event of a flood or flash flood.  

floodIn order to prepare for a flood or flash flood, it is important to know the difference between the two. Conditions that cause floods include heavy or steady rain for several hours or days that saturate the ground. Flash floods can occur within as little as a few minutes due to rapidly rising water along a stream or a sudden break in a levy or dam near a low-lying area. 

Meteorologists will also use the terms Flood Watches and Flood Warnings when discussing the storm in your area.  Knowing the difference between the two will help you determine the correct course of action for you or your family with consideration to the current weather conditions.  A Flood/Flash Flood Watch means that flooding or flash flooding IS POSSIBLE in your area, whereas a Flood/Flash Flood Warning indicates that flooding is ALREADY OCCURRING OR WILL SOON OCCUR in your area.

Having the suggested items in the chart below, packed and ready to go, will help you and your family be better prepared to withstand a flood: 

flood chart

When a flood or flash flood warning is issued for your area, head for higher ground immediately and stay there. As you are evacuating it is important to remember that as little as six inches of swiftly moving water can sweep you off your feet.  As little as two feet of swiftly moving water can cause cars to become swept away. 

NOTE:  It is important to keep children and pets out of water. They are curious and often lack judgment about contaminated or swiftly moving water. Also, standard home insurance does not cover flooding.  With that being said, call your insurance company to verify you have protection from floods that could arise from heavy rains, tropical storms, hurricanes and other circumstances that could cause floods in your area.

For more information about flood preparedness and instructions on what to do when returning home after a storm, visit http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/flood.  If you have questions, give them a call at 1 800-RED-CROSS or 1-800-733-2767.

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