Why Prepare?

Basic Preparedness
Getting Informed
Planning and Checklists
Special Needs
Disaster Supplies Kit

Natural Hazards
Thunderstorms and lightning
Winter storms and extreme cold
Extreme heat
Landslides and debris flow

Technological Hazards
Hazardous materials incidents
Household chemical emergencies
Nuclear power plant emergencies

Biological threats
Chemical threats
Nuclear blasts
Radiological dispersion device events

Recovering from Disaster
Health and safety guidelines
Returning home
Seeking disaster assistance
Coping with disaster
Helping others

Floods are one of the most common hazards in the United States. However, all floods are not alike. Some floods develop slowly, sometimes over a period of days. But flash floods can 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, 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.
Be aware of flood hazards no matter where you live, but especially if you live in a low-lying area, near water or downstream from a dam. Even very small streams, gullies, creeks, culverts, dry streambeds or low-lying ground that appears harmless in dry weather can flood. Every state is at risk from this hazard.

Know the Terms:

Familiarize yourself with these terms to 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.

Take Protective Measures
What can I do Before a Flood?

To prepare for a flood, you should:

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 flood water from backing up into the drains of your home

Construct any levees, beams or floodwalls to stop floodwater from entering the building

Seal walls in basements with waterproofing compounds to avoid seepage

What do I do During a Flood?

If a flood is likely in your area, you should:

Listen to the radio or television for information

Be aware that flash flooding can occur. If there is any possibility of a flash flood, move immediately to higher ground. Do not wait for instructions to move

Be aware of streams, drainage channels, canyons and other areas known to flood suddenly. Flash floods can occur in these areas even without typical warnings.
If you must prepare to evacuate, you should do the following:
Secure your home. Move crucial items to an upper floor

Turn off utilities at the main switches or valves

Disconnect electrical appliances. Do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet
If you have to leave your home, remember these evacuation tips:
Do not walk through moving water. If you have to walk in water, walk where the water is not moving.

Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you

Do not drive into flooded areas

Driving Flood Facts

The following are important points to remember when driving in flood conditions:

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

A foot of water will float many vehicles

Two feet of rushing water can carry away most sport utility vehicles (SUV’s) and pick-ups

What do I do After a Flood?

The following are guidelines for the period following a flood:

Listen for news reports to learn whether the community’s water supply is safe to drink

Avoid floodwaters; water may be contaminated by oil, gasoline or raw sewage. Water may also be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines

Avoid moving water

Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded. Roads may have weakened and could collapse under the weight of a car

Stay away from downed power lines and report them to the power company

Return home only when authorities give permission

Stay out of any building if it is surrounded by floodwaters

Use extreme caution when entering buildings; there may be hidden damage

Repair damaged septic tanks, cesspools, pits and leeching systems as soon as possible

Clean and disinfect everything that got wet

Additional Information
Flood Insurance

Consider the following facts:

Flood losses are not covered under homeowners’ insurance policies

Flood insurance is available in most communities through insurance agents

There is a 30-day waiting period before flood insurance goes into effect, so don't delay

Flood insurance is available whether the building is in or out of the identified flood-prone area