Floods And Flash Floods Emergency Information
Much of the information below was modified from that furnished by
the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), an independent agency of
the United States federal government. While this information addresses the
U.S. population, its message pertains to communities at risk of flooding
What is a flood?
Floods are the most common and widespread of all natural disasters,
except fire. Most communities in the United States can experience some
kind of flooding after spring rains, heavy thunderstorms, or winter snow
thaws. Floods can be slow, or fast rising but generally develop over a
period of days.
Dam failures are potentially the worst flood events. A dam failure is
usually the result of neglect, poor design, or structural damage caused by
a major event such as an earthquake. When a dam fails, a gigantic quantity
of water is suddenly let loose downstream, destroying anything in its
Flood waters can be extremely dangerous. The force of six inches of
swiftly moving water can knock people off their feet. The best protection
during a flood is to leave the area and go to shelter on higher ground.
Cars can be easily be swept away in just 2 feet of moving water. If
flood waters rise around a car, it should be abandoned. Passengers should
climb to higher ground.
What is a flash flood?
Flash floods usually result from intense storms dropping large amounts
of rain within a brief period. Flash floods occur with little or no
warning and can reach full peak in only a few minutes.
Flash flood waters move at very fast speeds and can roll boulders, tear
out trees, destroy buildings, and obliterate bridges. Walls of water can
reach heights of 10 to 20 feet and generally are accompanied by a deadly
cargo of debris. The best response to any signs of flash flooding is to
move immediately and quickly to higher ground.
What areas are the danger zones?
Floods and flash floods occur within all 50 states in the U.S.
Communities particularly at risk are those located in low-lying areas,
near water, or downstream from a dam.
Did you know....?
- Individuals and business owners in the U.S. can protect themselves
from flood losses by purchasing flood insurance through National Flood
Insurance Program. Homeowner's policies do not cover flood damage.
Information is available through local insurance agents and emergency
- Flooding has caused the deaths of more than 10,000 people since
1900. Property damage from flooding now totals over $1 billion each year
in the United States.
- More than 2,200 lives were lost as a result of the Johnstown,
Pennsylvannia flood of 1889. This flood was caused by an upstream dam
- Nearly 9 of every 10 presidential disaster declarations result from
natural phenomena in which flooding was a major component.
- On July 31, 1976, the Big Thompson River near Denver overflowed
after an extremely heavy storm. A wall of water 19 feet high roared down
the Big Thompson Canyon where many people were camping. 140 people
perished and millions of dollars of property were lost.
How can I help my community prepare for a flood disaster?
The local media can raise awareness about floods and flash floods by
providing important information to the community. Here are some
- Publish a special section in your local newspaper with emergency
information on floods and flash floods. Localize the information by
printing the phone numbers of local emergency services offices, the
American Red Cross, and hospitals.
- Interview local officials about land use management and building
codes in flood plains.
- Work with local emergency services and agencies, such as the American
Red Cross to prepare special reports for people with mobility
impairments on what to do if an evacuation is ordered.
- Periodically inform your community of local public warning systems.