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Flooding Can Occur Anywhere In U.S.
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American Red Cross
March 12, 2012
Floods can occur anywhere, at any time, throughout the United States and cause more damage in this country every year than any other weather-related disaster. During Flood Safety Awareness Week, the American Red Cross wants people to know how to be prepared if flooding threatens their neighborhood.
Flooding causes as much as $5 billion damage a year in the United States. In 2011, flood waters impacted thousands of lives across the country, inundating communities along major waterways such as the Missouri, Mississippi, and Susquehanna rivers. Flooding can be a local disaster affecting a single neighborhood, or very large, impacting entire river basins across many states.

Some floods develop slowly, but flash floods can develop in just a few minutes without any rain. Residents should know if their neighborhood is at risk for flooding and be alert to the possibility of a flood. Listen to local radio or TV stations for possible warnings or other critical information from the National Weather Service (NWS).

The Red Cross has safety steps people should follow if flooding threatens their home. If a flood or flash flood watch is issued, they should be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice. If a flood or flash flood warning is issued for their area, they should head for higher ground and stay there.
  • If a flood WATCH is issued, it means a flood is possible in the area and residents should move furniture and valuables to higher floors of the home and make sure to fill their vehicle’s gas tank in case they have to evacuate.
  • A flood WARNING means flooding is already occurring or will occur soon in the area. If a flood warning is issued, listen to local radio and television stations for information. If told to evacuate, do so as soon as possible.
  • A flash flood WATCH means flash flooding is possible in the area. Be alert to signs of flash flooding and be ready to evacuate quickly.
  • A flash flood WARNING means a flash flood is occurring or will occur very soon. If a flash flood warning is issued, evacuate immediately. There may only be seconds to escape.  Act quickly and move to higher ground away from rivers, streams, creeks and storm drains.  Do not drive around barricades. If the car stalls in rapidly rising waters, abandon it immediately and climb to higher ground.
Other safety steps include:
  • Stay away from floodwaters. If someone comes upon a flowing stream where water is above the ankles, they should stop, turn around and go another way. Six inches of swiftly moving water can sweep a person off of their feet.
  • If someone comes upon a flooded road while driving, they should turn around and go another way. If they’re caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around them, they should get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water.
  • Children are curious and may not realize how dangerous running or contaminated water can be. Keep them out of the water.
  • Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood danger.
People can find more information on how to respond to a flooding threat in the preparedness section of the Red Cross web site. More information about the many ways flooding can occur, the hazards of flooding and what people can do is also available on the National Weather Service Flood Safety Awareness Week web page.

People should be aware that standard homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flooding, so it’s important to have protection. For more information on flood insurance, please visit the National Flood Insurance Program Web site at www.FloodSmart.gov.

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies more than 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.

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