Flash floods can be dangerous threat, preparation important

By Jessica Healey | 1ST INF. DIV. POST | April 04, 2014

Editor’s note: This is the third article in a series of articles during March in observance of Severe Weather Awareness Month.

Flooding and flash flooding are the most dangerous severe weather threats throughout most areas of the country, including Kansas, according to the National Weather Service.

“In our regional area, we have experienced full flooding like those back in 1993, but, most recently, we normally have experienced flash flooding,” said Chris Hallenbeck, emergency management specialist, Emergency Management Office, Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security. “Flash flooding is a rapid and heavy flow of high water into a normally dry area and can occur within a few minutes or hours from excessive rainfall. It is very important to know what to do before, during and after the flood.”

In 1993, Fort Riley was part of a regional flood that broke previous flood records and covered most of the Midwest. The flood is commonly referred to as the “Great Flood of 1993,” according to the National Weather Service website. More information about the Great Flood of 1993 can be found at www.nwrfc.noaa.gov/floods/papers/oh_2/great.htm.

“Being prepared for flooding will keep your family safe and also help to minimize potential property damage,” Hallenbeck said.

Sometimes floods develop slowly and forecasters can anticipate where a flood will happen days or weeks before it occurs. Oftentimes flash floods can occur within minutes and sometimes without any sign of rain. Being prepared can save lives. Below are some tips from the National Weather Service in the event of a flood:


• Create a family communications plan

• Assemble an emergency kit

• Know the risks

• Prepare your home

• Prepare family and pets

• Charge essential electronics in the home

• Leave


• Stay informed

• Monitor local radio and television (including NOAA Weather Radio), internet and social media for information and updates.

• Get to higher ground

• Get out of areas subject to flooding and get to higher ground immediately.

• Obey evacuation orders

• If told to evacuate, do so immediately. Be sure to lock your home as you leave. If you have time, disconnect utilities and appliances.

• Practice electrical safety

• Don’t go into a basement, or any room, if water covers the electrical outlets or if cords are submerged. If you see sparks or hear buzzing, crackling, snapping or popping noises --get out! Stay out of water that may have electricity in it!

• Avoid flood waters


• Stay informed

• Stay tuned to your local news for updated information on road conditions. Ensure water is safe to drink, cook or clean with after a flood. Oftentimes a boil water order is put in place following a flood. Check with utility companies to find out when electricity or gas services may be restored.

• Avoid flood waters

• Standing water hides many dangers including toxins and chemicals. There may be debris under the water and the road surface may have been compromised.

• If it is likely your home will flood, don’t wait to be ordered to leave; evacuate yourself. Make alternative plans for a place to stay. If you have pets, take them with you or make arrangements to board them at a facility well away from the flooding danger.

• Avoid disaster areas

• Do not visit disaster areas! Your presence may hamper rescue and other emergency operations.

• Heed road closed and cautionary signs

• Road closure and other cautionary signs are put in place for your safety. Pay attention to them!

• Wait for the “all clear”

• Do not enter a flood damaged home or building until you’re given the all clear by authorities. If you choose to enter a flood damaged building, be extremely careful. Water can compromise the structural integrity and its foundation. Make sure the electrical system has been turned off, otherwise contact the power company or a qualified electrician. Contact your insurance agent as soon as possible to discuss the damage done to your property. If you have a home generator, be sure to follow proper safety procedures for use. You can find generator safety information at www.usfa.fema.gov/citizens/co/generator.shtm.

• Contact family

According to the National Weather Service, below are some key terms to be aware of in the event of a flood or flash flood:

• Flash flood warning. A flash flood warning is issued when a flash flood is imminent or occurring. Those in a flood prone area should move immediately to high ground.

• Flood Warning. A flood warning is issued when the hazardous weather event is imminent or already happening.

• Flood watch. A flood watch is issued when conditions are favorable for flooding. It does not mean flooding will occur, but it is possible.

• Flood advisory. A flood advisory is issued when flooding is not expected to be bad enough to issue a warning. However, it may cause significant inconvenience, and if caution is not exercised, it could lead to situations that may threaten life and/or property.