Flood Watches and Warnings
Floods can take several hours or days to develop, but flash floods can take only a few minutes. For this reason, you need to be able to understand how to react when a weather statement is issued:
Flood Watch (means flooding is possible)
- Move your furniture and valuables to higher floors of your home.
- Fill your car's gas tank, in case an evacuation notice is issued.
- If there is a flash flood watch, be alert to signs of flash flooding and be ready to evacuate on a moment's notice.
Flood Warning (means flooding is already occurring or will occur soon in your area.)
- Listen to local radio and TV stations for information and advice. If told to evacuate, do so as soon as possible.
- If you think a flash flood has already started, evacuate immediately. You may have only seconds to escape. Act quickly!
- Move to higher ground away from rivers, streams, creeks, and storm drains. Do not drive around barricades . . . they are there for your safety.
- If your car stalls in rapidly rising waters, abandon it immediately and climb to higher ground.
Other Safety Tips
- Do not walk through flowing water. Drowning is the number one cause of flood deaths, mostly during flash floods. Currents can be deceptive: six inches of rapidly moving water can knock you off your feet. If you walk in standing water, use a pole or stick to ensure that firm ground is still there.
- Do not drive through a flooded area. More people drown in their cars than anywhere else. Do not drive around road barriers; the road or bridge may be washed out, or the water may be deep enough to float your vehicle off the road.
- Stay away from power lines and electrical wires. The number two flood killer, after drowning, is electrocution. Electrical current can travel through water. Report downed power lines to the City Electric Utility (891-5000) or Police Department (891-4200).
- Have your power turned off by the Electric Utility. Some appliances, such as television sets, keep electrical charges even
after they have been unplugged. Do not use appliances or motors that have gotten wet unless they have been taken apart, cleaned, and dried.
- Look out for animals, especially snakes. Small animals that have been flooded out of their homes may seek shelter in yours. Use a pole or stick to poke and turn things over and scare away small animals.
- Look before you step. After a flood, the ground and floors may be covered with debris including broken bottles and nails. Floors and stairs that have been covered with mud can be very slippery.
- Be alert for gas leaks. Use a flashlight to inspect for damage. Do not smoke or use candles, lanterns, or open flames unless you know the gas has been turned off and the area has been ventilated.
Additional Tips from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
- Areas on low streets adjacent to ponds or drainage ditches and intersections may flood. Business and homes in flood prone areas should prepare for the possibility of damaging floodwaters. Turn Around...Don't Drown.
- Here are some basic definitions to help you interpret official advisories and warnings:
Flood: Any high flow, overflow, or inundation by water which causes or threatens damage.
Flash flood: A rapid and extreme flow of high water into a normally dry area, or a rapid water level rise in a stream or creek above a predetermined flood level, beginning within six hours of the causative event (e.g., intense rainfall, dam failure, ice jam). However, the actual time threshold may vary in different parts of the country. Ongoing flooding can intensify to flash flooding in cases where intense rainfall results in a rapid surge of rising flood waters.
Urban and small stream flood advisory: This advisory alerts the public to flooding which is generally only an inconvenience (not life-threatening) to those living in the affected area. Issued when heavy rain will cause flooding of streets and low-lying places in urban areas. Also used if small rural or urban streams are expected to reach or exceed bankfull. Some damage to homes or roads could occur.
Urban and small stream flooding: Flooding of small streams, streets, and low-lying areas, such as railroad underpasses and urban storm drains. This type of flooding is mainly an inconvenience and is generally not life threatening nor is it significantly damaging to property.