Midwestern Residents Urged to be Aware of Flood Dangers

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Release date: 
August 6, 2013
Release Number: 
13-010

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – With several areas throughout Kansas and Missouri experiencing bouts of late-summer flooding, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is urging residents to stay informed about the potential hazards of flooding.

Floods, especially flash floods, kill more people each year than any other weather phenomenon. This recent spate of severe weather-related events across the Midwestern states serves as a pointed reminder just how dangerous floods can be and how important it is to stay abreast of weather warnings, understand flood terms, and take action by monitoring, listening, preparing and acting accordingly.

Beth Freeman, Regional Administrator for FEMA Region VII urges residents to be constantly aware of their environment and any potential for flooding. "There's no doubt that when people are aware of the dangers and power of flooding, they can take measures to lessen the exposure to danger for themselves and family members," Freeman said. "When you're driving and you see the road ahead is flooded, be safe. It's best to 'turn around, don't drown.' FEMA is monitoring the situation and is on standby to help states if assistance is requested.”

While floods are the most common hazard in the United States, not all floods are alike. Floods typically occur when too much rain falls or snow melts too quickly. While some floods develop slowly, flash floods develop suddenly. 

One of the most dangerous elements of a flood is floodwaters covering roadways, and motorists are urged to never attempt driving through them.  About 60 percent of all flood deaths result from people trying to cross flooded roads in vehicles when the moving water sweeps them away.

While flood risks can indeed be a formidable threat, there are simple steps citizens can take today to reduce their risk to all types of floods. 

If a flood is likely in your area, you should:

  • Listen to your radio or television for information.
  • Be aware that flash flooding can occur. If there is any possibility of a flash flood that could affect you, move immediately to higher ground. Do not wait for instructions to move.
  • Be aware of streams, drainage channels, canyons, and other areas known to flood suddenly. Flash floods can occur in these areas with or without such typical warnings as rain clouds or heavy rain.

If you must prepare to evacuate, you should:

  • Secure your home. If you have time, bring in outdoor furniture. Move essential items to an upper floor.
  • Turn off utilities at the main switches or valves if instructed to do so. Unplug electrical appliances. Do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.
  • Take essential documents (http://www.ready.gov/evacuating-yourself-and-your-family)

If you must leave your home, remember these evacuation tips:

  • Do not walk through moving water. Six inches of moving water can make you fall. If you have to walk in water, walk in areas where the water is not moving. Use a pole or stick to make sure the ground continues in front of you.
  • Do not drive into flooded areas. If floodwaters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground if you can do so safely. You and your vehicle can be quickly swept away.
  • Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars causing loss of control and possible stalling.
  • A foot of water will float many vehicles.
  • Two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles including sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and pick-ups.

Additional tips to consider:

  • United Way’s 2-1-1 is a helpful resource before, during and after disasters. Keeping this number and an up-to-date family communication plan handy is a must-do when preparing for emergencies.
  • Keep emergency supplies on hand, such as non-perishable food, medicine, maps, a flashlight and first-aid kit.
  • Use extreme caution when returning to flood damaged homes or businesses.

Become familiar with the terms that are used to identify flooding hazards:

  • Flood Watch: Flooding is possible. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.
  • Flood Warning: Flooding is occurring or will occur soon; if advised to evacuate, do so immediately.
  • Flash Flood Watch: Rapid rises on streams and rivers are possible. Be prepared to move to higher ground; listen to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.
  • Flash Flood Warning: Rapid rises on streams and rivers are occurring; seek higher ground on foot immediately.

The National Weather Service is the official source for weather watches and warnings.

For more information on flood safety tips and information, visit www.ready.gov/floods or the Spanish-language web site www.listo.gov.

For information on how to obtain a flood insurance policy, visit www.floodsmart.gov.

Follow FEMA online at www.twitter.com/fema, www.facebook.com/fema, and www.youtube.com/fema.  Find regional updates from FEMA Region VII at www.twitter.com/femaregion7. The social media links provided are for reference only. FEMA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies or applications.

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

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Last Updated: 
August 6, 2013 - 19:28
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