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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Floods

While we're still in the depths of winter, we're not far out on the time when the snows melt and the water flows. And as this gif recently shared with the BCP Facebook group shows, some floods can come fast and furious, and with zero warning.

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But some floods do come slow and steady as well. What they all have in common is that awareness and a bit of preparation can easily prevent or mitigate damage and injury.

Preparation
First, know your risk level. In a previous article, Erin linked to a handy site that gives your flood risk zone based on your street address. If your risk level comes back as minimal, congratulations! You have one less thing in your life to worry about.

If it comes back elevated, you'll need to make some plans. Step one is to make sure that you have appropriate flood insurance. There is obviously an associated cost, but if extremes descend upon you, you'll have help recovering.

When storms are pending, listen to the news on the radio, or TV, or on some manner of weather band radio. If a "watch" is announced, it means that flooding is possible in your area. If they announce a "warning" instead, it means flooding is currently occuring or will occur in the very near future. These may be accompanied by official instructions.

If you're advised to find high ground or evacuate, do so if at all possible. Crises have a real hard time hurting you if you aren't there.

When traveling in flood conditions, know how little water it takes to sweep you away. On foot, water over your ankles is enough to trip you and pull you away. In a vehicle, it takes less than two feet of water to move even large vehicles. In addition, flood flows carry all sorts of debris that can injure or kill you. Attempting to cross floodwaters is a recipe ripe for disaster.

If you can't relocate, do what you can to keep water at bay. Sandbags are backbreaking, but are excellent for this purpose. In Erin's linked article, she talks about an easy bagging tool that takes the pain out of sandbagging, and could easily be worth its weight in gold. In addition, move any valuables to the highest point possible. Unplug any electrical devices that could be exposed to flood waters.

In short, don't be there if you don't have to. If you have to be there, build the berm high and tight.

Flash Floods
Flash floods are, with very few exceptions, far less likely to hit you where you live. They are phenomenally dangerous though, striking with little to no warning, and pack a tremendous amount of force. In fact, they are the #1 weather-related killer in the USA.

Even the driest deserts are susceptible to flash flooding. Pay attention to weather reports and severe weather warnings. A storm miles away can cause flooding, especially in dry riverbeds, culverts, or other waterways.

Aftermath
After a flood, utilities are almost guaranteed to be compromised. Don't trust any water you haven't purified until you get word from local authorities. If necessary, or if advised by authorities, turn off your utilities. As waters recede, be careful of any wildlife that may have taken shelter in your home, outbuildings, or vehicles. In addition, be conscious of any food or other supplies that may be contaminated by water, waste, or debris.


You can't prevent flooding, but you can do some big things to minimize the damage.

Lokidude

The Fine Print


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution- Noncommercial- No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Creative Commons License


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