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					ARE YOU READY?                                                                             29

                                                lying area, near water or downstream from
                                                a dam. Even very small streams, gullies,
                                                creeks, culverts, dry streambeds or low-
                                                lying ground that appear harmless in dry
                                                weather can flood. Every state is at risk
                                                from this hazard.

                                                What to do before a flood
                                                 1. Know the terms used to describe
                                                     • Flood Watch—Flooding is possible.
                                                       Stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio
                                                       or commercial radio or television for
                                                       information. Watches are issued 12
                                                       to 36 hours in advance of a possible
                                                       flooding event.
                                                     • Flash Flood Watch—Flash flooding

                                                       is possible. Be prepared to move to
        loods are one of the most common
                                                       higher ground. A flash flood could
        hazards in the U.S. However, all
                                                       occur without any warning. Listen
        floods are not alike. Riverine floods
                                                       to NOAA Weather Radio or com-
develop slowly, sometimes over a period of
                                                            mercial radio or television for
days. Flash floods can devel-
                                                            additional information.
op quickly, sometimes in just
a few minutes, without any              Go to higher          • Flood Warning—Flooding is
visible signs of rain. Flash           ground during         occurring or will occur soon. If
floods often have a danger-           floods. Moving advised to evacuate, do so im-
ous wall of roaring water                 water only
that carries a deadly cargo of
                                       6 inches deep          • Flash Flood Warning—
rocks, mud and other debris                                  A flash flood is occurring.
and can sweep away most
                                       can knock you
                                                             Seek higher ground on foot
things in its path. Overland            off your feet.       immediately.
flooding occurs outside a de-
fined river or stream, such as                               2. Ask local officials whether
when a levee is breached, but                                your property is in a flood-
still can be destructive. Flooding can also          prone or high-risk area. (Remember
occur from a dam break producing effects             that floods often occur outside high-
similar to flash floods.                             risk areas.) Ask about official flood
                                                     warning signals and what to do when
Flood effects can be very local, impacting a         you hear them. Also ask how you can
neighborhood or community, or very large,            protect your home from flooding.
effecting entire river basins and multiple
states.                                           3. Identify dams in your area and
                                                     determine whether they pose a hazard
Be aware of flood hazards no matter where            to you.
you live, but especially if you live in a low-

                                             FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY
30                                                            ARE YOU READY?

4. Purchase a NOAA Weather Radio               • FEMA manages the National Flood
   with battery backup and a tone-alert          Insurance Program, which makes
   feature that automatically alerts you         federally-backed flood insurance
   when a Watch or Warning is issued             available in communities that agree
   (tone alert not available in some areas).     to adopt and enforce floodplain man-
   Purchase a battery-powered commer-            agement ordinances to reduce future
   cial radio and extra batteries.               flood damage.

5. Be prepared to evacuate. Learn your         • Flood insurance is available in most
   community’s flood evacuation routes           communities through insurance
   and where to find high ground. See            agents.
   the “Evacuation” chapter                            • There is a 30-day waiting
   for important information.      Keep    supplies    period before flood insurance
                                                       goes into effect, so don’t delay.
6. Talk to your household           on hand for an
   about flooding. Plan a             emergency.       • Flood insurance is available
                                                       whether the building is in or
   place to meet your house-         Remember a
   hold in case you are sepa-                          out of the identified flood-
                                   battery operated    prone area.
   rated from one another
   in a disaster and cannot
                                   NOAA Weather
   return home. Choose an         Radio with a tone-   11. Consider options for
                                                       protecting your property.
   out-of-town contact for         alert feature and
   everyone to call to say          extra batteries.  • Make a record of your
   they are okay. In some                             personal property. Take
   emergencies, calling out-                          photographs or videotapes
   of-state is possible even when local         of your belongings. Store these
   phone lines are down.                        documents in a safe place.
                                               • Keep insurance policies, deeds,
7. Determine how you would care for
                                                 property records and other important
   household members who may live
                                                 papers in a safe place away from your
   elsewhere but might need your help in
   a flood. Determine any special needs
   your neighbors might have.                  • Avoid building in a floodplain unless
                                                 you elevate and reinforce your home.
8. Prepare to survive on your own for at
                                               • Elevate furnace, water heater,
   least three days. Assemble a disaster
                                                 and electric panel to higher floors
   supply kit. Keep a stock of food and
                                                 or the attic if they are susceptible
   extra drinking water. See the “Emer-
                                                 to flooding.
   gency Planning and Disaster Supplies”
   chapter for more information.               • Install “check valves” in sewer traps
                                                 to prevent flood water from backing
9. Know how to shut off electricity, gas         up into the drains of your home.
   and water at main switches and valves.
                                               • Construct barriers such as levees,
   Know where gas pilot lights are located
                                                 berms, and floodwalls to stop flood-
   and how the heating system works.
                                                 water from entering the building.
10. Consider purchasing flood insurance.       • Seal walls in basements with water-
     • Flood losses are not covered under        proofing compounds to avoid seepage.
       homeowners’ insurance policies.

ARE YOU READY?                                                                              31

   • Call your local building department               electrical appliances. Do not touch
     or emergency management office for                electrical equipment if you are wet or
     more information.                                 standing in water.
                                                     • Fill the bathtub with water in case
                                                       water becomes contaminated or
What to do during a flood                              services cut off. Before filling the
1. Be aware of flash flood. If there is any            tub, sterilize it with a diluted bleach
   possibility of a flash flood, move imme-            solution.
   diately to higher ground. Do not wait         5. Do not walk through moving water.
   for instructions to move.                        Six inches of moving water can knock
2. Listen to radio or televi-                               you off your feet. If you must
   sion stations for local                                  walk in a flooded area, walk
                                                            where the water is not moving.
   information.                       If there is any       Use a stick to check the firm-
3. Be aware of streams,               possibility of a      ness of the ground in front of
   drainage channels,               flash flood, move you.
   canyons and other areas           immediately to
                                                              6. Do not drive into flooded
   known to flood suddenly.          higher ground.           areas. Six inches of water
   Flash floods can occur in         Do not wait for          will reach the bottom of most
   these areas with or with-
   out such typical warning
                                      instructions to         passenger cars causing loss of
   signs as rain clouds or                 move.              control and possible stalling.
   heavy rain.                                                A foot of water will float many
                                                              vehicles. Two feet of water will
4. If local authorities issue a                               wash away almost all vehicles.
   flood watch, prepare to evacuate:                 If floodwaters rise around your car,
   • Secure your home. If you have time,             abandon the car and move to higher
     tie down or bring outdoor equipment             ground, if you can do so safely. You
     and lawn furniture inside. Move es-             and your vehicle can be quickly swept
     sential items to the upper floors.              away as floodwaters rise.

   • If instructed, turn off utilities at the     7. See the “Evacuation” chapter for im-
     main switches or valves. Disconnect             portant information.

                                                FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY
32                                                              ARE YOU READY?

                                                 • Throw away food that has come in
What to do after                                   contact with floodwaters.
a flood                                          • Listen for news reports to learn
1. Avoid floodwaters. The water may be             whether the community’s water sup-
   contaminated by oil, gasoline or raw            ply is safe to drink.
   sewage. The water may also be elec-           • Listen to news reports for infor-
   trically charged from underground or            mation about where to get assis-
   downed power lines.                             tance for housing, clothing and food.
2. Avoid moving water. Moving water              • Seek necessary medical care at the
   only six inches deep can sweep you off          nearest medical facility.
   your feet.
                                             8. Service damaged septic tanks, cess-
3. Be aware of areas where floodwaters          pools, pits, and leaching systems as
   have receded. Roads may                               soon as possible. Damaged
   have weakened and could                               sewage systems are serious
   collapse under the weight        There is a           health hazards.
   of a car.                     30-day waiting           9. Contact your insurance
4. Stay away from downed           period before          agent. If your policy covers
   power lines and report        flood insurance          your situation, an adjuster
                                                          will be assigned to visit your
   them to the power com-            goes into
                                                          home. To prepare:
   pany.                             effect, so
5. Stay away from des-              don’t delay.          • Take photos of your be-
                                                          longings and your home or
   ignated disaster areas
                                                          videotape them.
   unless authorities ask for
   volunteers.                                            • Separate damaged and
                                                          undamaged belongings.
6. Return home only when authorities
                                                          • Locate your financial
   indicate it is safe. Stay out of build-
   ings if surrounded by floodwaters. Use
   extreme caution when entering build-                   • Keep detailed records of
   ings. There may be hidden damage,                      cleanup costs.
   particularly in foundations.
                                             10. If your residence has been flooded
7. Consider your family’s health and             obtain a copy of “Repairing Your
   safety needs:                                 Flooded Home” from the local Ameri-
                                                 can Red Cross chapter.
     • Wash hands frequently with soap
       and clean water if you come in        11. See the “Recovering From Disaster”
       contact with floodwaters.                 chapter for more information.


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