|Citizens boating through the corner of 7th & University |
during the flood of 1949 in Fort Worth, Texas.
Though floods are possible all year round, flooding, whether overland or flash flooding, are more likely to occur during the spring and summer due to snowmelt and the likelihood of heavy rainstorms. An overland flood is one in which a body of water, such as a stream, river, or creek overflows its banks. Flash floods happen when water containment systems, such as city drains, levees or damns cannot hold the amount of water flowing into them. Flash floods are especially dangerous because they happen quickly, are difficult to predict and can carry large objects for miles.
|The new Red Cross Flood app|
alerts you to real-time flood
watches & warnings.
You and your family need two separate plans in case of flooding—what to do if you stay at home and one in case of evacuation.
The first priority during a major flood is procuring safe drinking water. Floods have great potential to contaminate your city’s water supply. Safe drinking water is essential to our survival. Keep bottled water on hand for a minimum of three days. However, it is recommended to keep enough for every member of your family for five days.
One gallon of water per person per day meets just the minimum amount of water a person needs for drinking and basic hygiene. For example, for a family of four for five days, you need to store 20 gallons of water. I find the cheapest and easiest way to do this is buying at least two gallons of grocery store brand drinking water every time I shop. Keep water in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight.
Another alternative is to keep large water storage containers—like a bathtub bladder—on hand. When a flood warning or watch is issued, fill up these containers with water right away.
Your next priority is food. Floods can cause damage to the electrical lines. You may have to live without power for a few days. Stock up on non-perishable foods that do not require refrigeration, such as milk and butter, to prepare. Do not forget an alternative way to heat it up! Barbecue grills and propane camp stoves work just great when the power goes out.
Keep flashlights, lanterns and plenty of fresh batteries available and ready accessible. You and your family will feel more secure if you have plenty of light.
If you must evacuate, it is imperative to have a solid plan in place. Will you go to a far away family or friend’s house, a local hotel safe from flooding or an American Red Cross shelter? Either way, you need to be ready to leave your home at a moment’s notice. In this case, prepare a flood kit beforehand and pack it in a ready-to-grab bag.
In your kit, you will need:
• Copies of important documents; I keep mine on a flash drive
• Rain gear and sturdy shoes
• Cell phone charger
• Emergency blankets
• Essential medicines
• First aid kit
Last, but not least, double-check your homeowner’s insurance policy. Most standard homeowner’s insurance policies do not include flood insurance. Call your insurance agency and discuss your options.
Most shelters do not accept pets. Do not leave your four-legged companions behind. Arranging accommodations for them now assures not only yours, but your pets safety as well in case of disaster. Call ahead to hotels in your area to find which ones allow pets to stay or find a local animal shelter that boards pets during an emergency.
After a devastating flood, you might not know where to turn. The American Red Cross provides a wide array of services for victims of disaster. Please reach out—The Red Cross is here to help.