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During a Flood

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Flood Advisory Terms

  • Flood Watch: Flooding is possible. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information
  • Flash Flood Watch: Flash flooding is possible. Be prepared to move to higher ground; listen 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 Warning: A flash flood is occurring; seek higher ground on foot immediately.

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

  • Be prepared both to shelter-in-place and to evacuate at a moment’s notice.
  • Be aware of streams, drainage channels, canyons, and other areas known to flood suddenly. Flash floods can occur in these areas with or without warning clouds or rain.
  • Listen to area radio and television stations and a NOAA Weather Radio for possible flood warnings and reports of flooding in progress or other critical information from the National Weather Service (NWS).
  • If a flood or flash flood warning is issued for your area, immediately head for higher ground and stay there. Do not wait for instructions to move.

Evacuation during a flood

If you must prepare to evacuate, you should:

  • Secure your home. If you have time, bring in outdoor furniture, and move essential items to an upper floor.
  • Turn off utilities at the main switches or valves if instructed to do so. Disconnect electrical appliances. Do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.

Stay away from floodwaters. Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood danger. Keep children out of the water. They are curious and often lack judgment about rushing or contaminated water. Do not walk through moving water. Six inches of moving water can sweep you off of your feet.

  • If you come upon a flowing stream, where water is above your ankles, stop, turn around and go another way.
  • If you have to walk in water, walk where the water is not moving.
  • Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.

Do not drive into flooded areas. If you come upon a flooded section of road, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road with waters rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly. Abandon it and move to safe, higher ground. Remember:

  • You and the 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 (SUV’s) and pick-ups.

Eighty percent of flood deaths occur in vehicles — overturned or rolled when drivers try to cross what they think is shallow water. Water just above your car door jamb can float your car off the road and into deeper water.

For more information on floods, see: