It’s March and here in Mississippi everything is already starting to turn green. With that comes the rain. We are currently under a flood warning through this Friday and according to the National Weather Service — that’s just the beginning.
Expectations for our neck of the woods is above average precipitation. Not just for us but for a big portion of the country due an “El Nino” weather pattern for the season ahead.
Are you prepared for Spring Floods?
Flooding devastates communities, destroys neighborhoods, and displaces thousands of families. Now is the time to make sure that you have all your ducks in a row so that you are prepared if you have any possibility of flooding in your area — now or in the future. From basic bug-out bag to more comprehensive survival gear, more than ever folks pride themselves on their level of preparedness and quick action in these types of emergency situations.
However, even the most advanced level of prepping can be tested when trapped by rising flood waters in the pitch blackness of night. No one expects the 100, 500 or 1000 year flood in the days, weeks or months preceding the actual event. Seems that is always the commentary after the fact when the damage is done.
According to FEMA, flooding is one of the most common and dangerous hazards in the United States. FEMA states,
Flood risk isn’t just based on history; it’s also based on a number of factors including rainfall, topography, flood-control measures, river-flow and tidal-surge data, and changes due to new construction and development.
Importantly, FEMA stresses that prepping before the flood, staying alert and aware during the flood, and returning home safely after the flood, is essential for protecting your family, home, and business.
Before the Flood:
- Find out the risk of flooding in your community.
- Elevate furnaces, water heaters, and electrical panels.
- Install a check valve to prevent the backflow of water into your house, constructing flood water barriers, and sealing basement walls and windows.
As with any emergency situation or natural disaster, it is also important to:
- Have an emergency/survival kit available for immediate use.
- Prepare and practice a family communication plan.
During the Flood:
During a flood, it is important to pay attention to emergency alerts and warnings on the radio and television. Knowing flooding terminology is key to understanding these alerts and accurately assessing the severity of the situation. Having a NOAA Weather Radio is imperative.
Key terms to know during a flood are:
- Flood/Flash Flood Watch: During a flood or flash flood watch, flooding is possible and individuals should listen to NOAA Weather Radio, or tune into commercial radio and television for current information.
- Flood Warning: Flooding is occurring or will occur soon. Be prepared to evacuate and do so immediately if mandated by safety officials.
- Flash Flood Warning: A flash flood is occurring and individuals need to seek higher ground on foot immediately.
For individuals who need to leave their homes or evacuate during a flood, FEMA recommends:
- Move outdoor and essential items to an upper floor.
- Turn off utilities and disconnect appliances. Never touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.
- Avoid walking through moving water.
- And you would never know this is a no-no by what you see on T.V. after the fact — never drive through flooded roadways. Turn around; find another route. Just. Don’t. Do. It.
Flash Flooding is a particularly dangerous aspect of any flood emergency and requires immediate action and possible evacuation.
After the Flood:
Safely returning home, contacting loved ones, assessing the damage, and beginning cleanup takes priority after a flood. However, it is important to stay away from damaged areas in your community and only return to your home or business after safety officials have reported the area to be risk-free.
When returning home, The American Red Cross suggests:
- Checking for structural damage, including loose power lines and damaged gas lines, before re-entering your home. If you smell natural gas or propane, leave the area immediately.
- Watch for wildlife, including poisonous snakes.
- Avoid coming into contact with flood water due to possible contamination.
- Follow all state or local health department mandates regarding water safety and any actions that need to be taken such as boiling or reduced usage.
- During clean up, use protective clothing, including rubber gloves and boots. Dispose of all hazardous material properly. Remove wet items immediately to prevent mold and dispose of all items that have come into contact with floodwater.