The number one weather-related killer in the United States each year is flooding. On average, 140 deaths are caused annually due to flood conditions. Of that number, three quarters die in vehicles.
The best way to survive a flood is to understand that nature is not the enemy. Flooding occurs often enough to give us lots of information on how best to deal with these conditions.
The primary type of flooding is river flooding. This can occur even if there has been no rainfall in your immediate area. A heavy rain event far upstream can cause river levels to rise even though you haven’t seen storm clouds. These conditions can have a cumulative effect over days or weeks. It is important to know the topography of the land around you and whether or not you are at risk for flooding.
Some precautions that you can take include keeping pets restrained or on a leash and indoors. Secure livestock on high ground. Listen to your local weather station. When a flood warning is issued – ESPECIALLY a flash flood warning, understand that there isn’t much time to move. You may only have seconds to escape. Remember that the water will seek low lying areas. Streets, streams and creeks will fill rapidly. Rather than attempting to outrun the waters, seek higher ground. Never attempt to outdrive a flash flood. Flash floods move faster than a car could travel.
If there IS time to prepare, then move your furnishings and valuables to an upper level. Stock up on clean water, filling various containers, including bathtubs. Implement your family disaster plan.
NEVER DRIVE in flood waters. Water covering the road could be covering hidden dangers. Just because you are familiar with the ground surface, doesn’t mean it is safe. The lay of the land may well have been changed by the swirling water. The waters may contain runoff toxic chemicals, downed power lines or other debris. Stop, turn around and go another way.
Avoid walking in floodwaters. The currents in floodwaters are strong. As little as 6 inches of water can sweep an adult or a child off their feet and carry them away. Listen to public health warnings regarding boiling water advisories. Take time to become aware of the entry points of your home. Neighbor’s pets or other wildlife such as snakes or rats may try to take refuge in your house.
If you return home after a flood, examine the exterior of your home, checking for damage and places where critters may have entered. If the foundation appears damaged, hire a professional to inspect the residence to see if it’s safe to enter. Wear protective clothing – dust mask, rubber gloves, long pants, boots, and long-sleeved shirts – as you clean your property. Floods cause a lot of mud, silt and other debris to enter your home. Be prepared to change garments as they become soiled. The soil contains bacteria that could make you ill.
Earlier this year, the Cane Creek community in Tennessee experienced localized flooding. The July-August 2009 issue of No Greater Joy Magazine includes two personal accounts of the event. Impressive photos are included along with an article by bestselling author Debi Pearl entitled: "The Biggest Cane Creek Flood on Record.” Her son, Gabriel Pearl wrote of his adventures in the article entitled: “Cane Creek Flood.” You can read both articles free online or sign up for a free subscription to No Greater Joy Magazine and have it delivered to your home.