On June 23, 2016, a Derecho* storm passed through West Virginia, where devastating floods left 24 people dead, thousands without power, gas service or water, and hundreds without homes or cars.
In December 2015, Storm Desmond caused an estimated £500m of flood-related damage across the Cumbria area of the United Kingdom, affecting more than 10,000 households.
China’s Yellow River valley is home to some of the world’s worst floods. Millions of people living there have perished in floods during the last century.
The National Geographic Society says there are few places on Earth where people do not need to concern themselves with flooding. A flood occurs when water overflows or inundates land that is otherwise dry.
Most floods take hours or even days to develop while others generate quickly and with little warning. The latter—flash floods—can be dangerous as they turn streams and brooks into a thundering wall of water that sweeps everything in its path downstream. In fact, flash floods are the top cause of water-related deaths in the United States.
Following are some steps you can take to prepare yourself for a flood. These tips come from a variety of sources, including the American Red Cross, BBC News and the Department of Homeland Safety.
Flood Safety Tips
- Be prepared to evacuate and heed evacuation orders when given.
- Avoid walking or driving through flood waters. If you come upon a flooded road while driving, turn around and go the other way. If floodwaters rise around your car but water is not moving, abandon the car and move to higher ground. Do not leave the car and enter moving water. Just six inches of moving water can knock you down, and two feet of water can sweep away your vehicle.
- If there is a chance of flash flooding, move to higher ground.
- Avoid camping or parking along streams, rivers and creeks during heavy rainfall as these areas can flood quickly.
- When at home, gather your family, pets and essential items—such as medications, food, water, a radio and cell phone—and head upstairs or to a higher place with means of escape.
- Fill jugs or pans with clean water.
- Turn off gas, electricity and water supplies when floodwater is about to enter your home.
- Keep children out of the water.
Flood Recovery Tips
- Do not return home until officials declare the area safe.
- Before entering your home, look outside for loose power lines, damaged gas lines, foundation cracks or other damage.
- Watch out for wild animals, including snakes that may have entered your home with the floodwater.
- If power lines are down, do not step in puddles or standing water.
- Avoid driving through areas that are still flooded.
- During cleanup, wear protective clothing, including rubber gloves and rubber boots.
- Contact your local or state public health department to find out if your water supply might be contaminated.
- Photograph damaged property for insurance purposes.
*AccuWeather.com defines Derechos as a dangerous type of thunderstorm complex that travels along a path of at least 240 miles. These violent, severe thunderstorm clusters produce widespread and long-lived, straight-line wide damage. They are often referred to as inland hurricanes because of their torrential rain and ferocious wind. Very large hail, widespread flooding and isolated tornadoes can also occur.
Have you ever been victim of a flood? What advice can you share with others?