In the United States, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is always monitoring the conditions of the nation’s rivers. The National Weather Service River Forecast Center, a subsection of the NOAA, are ready to issue forecasts when they see that a river or river system is in danger of overflowing. A flood warning is given if the flood is slow to come, and a flash-flood watch is given if the danger is approaching quickly.
One of the dangers that come from flooding is the spread of disease. Because flooding disrupts regular waste disposal, business, and access to fresh water supplies, food has to be provided by relief agencies. Survivors are often left without electricity, gas, and oil, meaning no cooked food or hot water. Repair crews are called in to help get equipment working again, a process that sometimes takes months.
Residents in flood areas would do well to keep the following basic safety rules in mind.
- If you hear the words “flood forecast” on the news, know that heavy rains could cause an overflowing river.
- If you hear the words “flood warning,” realize that flooding will happen now or very soon.
- If you hear “flash flood warning,” that means certain areas are expecting or experiencing sudden floods.
- Turn off all utilities.
- Be prepared to evacuate. If necessary, flee to higher ground.
- If you are driving, stay away from storm drains and irrigation ditches.
- Never go past a police blockade. Roped-off areas are usually off-limits and dangerous to citizens.
- Keep the radio on for further instructions.
- If your car won’t start and water is rising, leave the vehicle and find higher ground.
- Place sandbags around your house as instructed.
- If you see a flood coming, don’t hesitate to evacuate!
What to Do Immediately After a Flood
- Check for injuries and help the wounded if necessary.
- If you need additional help, call 911.
- Listen for news updates on what to do.
- Avoid flooded areas.
- Be cautious when handling animals.
How to Recover After a Flood
- You and your family are the #1 priority. Take care of yourselves and have the necessary rest.
- Try to have as best possible diet and sleep as you can.
- Seek help from a mental health professional if you notice the signs of stress, anxiety, panic attacks, and similar conditions.
- Slowly try to rebuild the work habits. Don’t go too hard on yourself if you aren’t as productive as you were before.
- Start with the most important repairs.
- Patch holes.
- Check for water leaks.
- Inspect your home for mold. See signs of mold presence in homes.
- Dry out your home. Use dehumidifiers.
- Take your time with cleaning. The quality of the work over how fast you can get it done.
- File a flood insurance claim.
About Flood Prevention
Today, there are many ways to help prevent and control floods. Flood-control dams have been constructed throughout history across rivers. Dikes and levees are built alongside rivers to keep them from overflowing during periods of high water. Canals are also used to help drain off extra water. Streams and rivers can be diverted to avoid highly populated areas. Regulation of floodplain development and urbanization would reduce flood losses. Prevention of soil erosion also helps control flooding, which is why it’s a good idea to plant lots of trees, treat slopes and grads, and create reservoirs to catch sediment and debris.
Scientists continue to study lowland areas. People have gradually filled in wetlands to create land for roads, houses, and cities. About 200,000 to 400,000 acres of wetlands are lost in the United States each year, but the bottomlands, bogs, marshes, and swamps are very valuable in preventing and controlling floods. The wetlands act like giant sponges that soak up huge amounts of water and let it run off slowly. When these areas are filled in and built over, floods are more likely to occur.
Ultimately, people cannot control nature. Tropical storms, hurricanes, thunderstorms, and melting snow will cause floods. In the past, these disasters have caused millions of dollars’ worth in damage. They have taken numerous lives. To survive, keep your cool and prepare yourself with the supplies and knowledge necessary for survival.
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