Flash floods are one of the top rated weather killers in the USA and the damage to local and national economies is extreme, running on average to $3.7 million dollars a year with over 100 people losing their lives annually as a result of flooding.
More than half of these happen to people trapped in vehicles.
As with a lot of natural disasters, we can best help ourselves by being prepared for the worst and planning for the best possible outcome for ourselves and our families.
Flooding can happen in known floodplains, after prolonged rainfall or intense rain over a shorter period of time.
Flash floods can occur within six hours of a rain storm, dam or levee failure, allowing release of water normally held back by these structures.
If you live in snow and ice country, sudden melt or ice debris, suddenly unblocking river flow can also catch you unprepared.
You may not have much or any warning that floods are imminent so if you live in areas like known floodplains and other places prone to flooding then the time to prepare is now.
There are also several other factors that contribute to the extreme danger associated with flooding. In addition to the rainfall intensity and duration.
So What Can We Do To Minimize The Risks To Ourselves and Our Families?
There will generally be more watches – this being the first indicator that SHTF is about to happen and you should be aware of the localized potential hazards and start (bit late dude) to plan a way to keep safe, or move to safety.
Learn about your home and work areas flood risks and develop a plan to get to higher areas if you are at risk from floodwaters.
If you are driving, it’s worth knowing that it doesn’t take much water to float a car and carry you away.
Only six inches of water under a car is enough to make it uncontrollable and a couple of foot of water can carry away most SUVs and pickup trucks.
Don’t try to drive through flooded roads.
Turn back and don’t drown. Even if a car in front has apparently made it through.
Many people are unfortunately swept away after trying to negotiate flooded roads.
If you get caught in a flood, you will have to abandon your car to reach higher ground as the water may rise further.
You may not be able to use the doors due to water pressure so make sure the windows are wound down before you need to use them and before you lose power.
If your windows become jammed, you will need to break them to get out. Life hammers and window punches are best for this so carry one in your car where you can easily reach it.
Make sure you have clear route out of the vehicle to higher ground.
If not you may have to climb onto the roof of your car until you are recued or are able to reach safe land.
Best to avoid putting yourself in this position if possible.
Do not attempt to walk through flood waters, a fast flowing stream of six inches can knock you off your feet and carry you away.
If you must walk through flood water, choose where it is still if possible and use a stick to check the depth.
If you are swept away, try to move downstream feet forst to avoid banging your head and try to grab hold of something solid to keep you from moving, like a rock or tree.
Prepare (Nuff said)
Sandbags may be supplied free to protect your home by your local county.
Turn of the power and main gas supply if advised to do so.
Remove or seal off hazardous supplies from your home.
Remove as much as you can from the lower levels of your house.
Secure backyard furniture and toys that may become a hazard to others if they get caught in the floods.
Try and maintain hygiene as floodwaters can quickly become contaminated with sewerage and chemicals.
If advised to evacuate, comply.
If you are caught out whilst camping or hiking don’t try to outrun floods, move to higher ground without delay and wait there until the flood subsides.
I found these videos that pretty much demonstrate the power of flash floods. Awesome!
Amazing Flash Flood in Southern Utah By David Rankin of RankinStudio
This is what happens if you get caught out in the open by a flash flood. Notice the debris coming down with the floodwater.
Think you could run through that? Didn’t think so!
This is in a country town in Queensland Australia in 2011. A weather bomb hit further inland and the resulting flood-waters swept through the town a few hours afterwards.
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