Flooding can occur anywhere in the United States, from coast to coast, any time of the year, and causes more damage than any other type of natural disaster. Flooding obviously occurs around lakes and rivers, but flash flooding can come from heavy downpours and runoff, backed up storm drains, or a break in a dam or levee in a matter of minutes, anywhere, anytime.
Flood alerts are issued by the National Weather Service to your local weather stations. Flooding and heavy downpours can cause trees to fall on power lines causing outages. Flooded roadways can block access to damaged power lines, so it may take crews some time to get there.
Understand the Signs
- Flood Watch: This means that weather conditions have or will create a risk of flooding.
- Flood Warning: This warning means flooding has or is occurring.
- Flash Flood: A sudden and violent flooding after heavy rain, or dam break.
STAY AWAY FROM DOWNED POWER LINES
Water is a conductor of electricity, and you could get electrocuted. If you are trapped in your car from a fallen power line, DO NOT EXIT THE VEHICLE. Wait for police, fire and the utility company to make sure the line is not hot and it is safe to exit your vehicle. By stepping out of your vehicle, your body makes the connection with the ground and the electricity will travel through you to reach the ground.
You have heard the phrase “Turn Around, Don’t Drown!” Makes sense as you really don’t know how deep and fast that water is. If you are driving into water covering the road, it may be damaged or washed out underneath and you can’t see it. More than half of all people killed in floods were in their vehicles. It only takes 18 inches of water to lift up your car or SUV.
Do not walk or swim in flooded areas, you can get hurt by debris you don’t see under the water.
Have a Plan
Minimize damage to electrical equipment and move them off the floor to a table or second floor. Turn off electricity at the main breaker if water is rising near your home. Do not attempt to turn off the main power switch if the basement or 1st floor is flooded. Contact us to disconnect your power at the pole. Stay clear of anything that can conduct electricity such as anything metal like ladders or pipes, and even wet wood. Do not use any electrical appliances if you have flooding in your home.
If you must evacuate, be ready to go immediately. Floods can happen in just minutes and sometimes without warning.
Supplies that you should keep ready for an immediate evacuation
- Weather Radio with battery backup
- Cell Phone
- First Aid Kit
- A plan for your pets
- A planned evacuation route and an alternate route
- A full tank of gas in your vehicle – you may get stuck in traffic and/or many stations may be closed because of the flooding.
- Emergency Cash – ATM’s and banks may be closed or offline because of flooding and power outages.
You may have to leave for a few days until waters recede, so you may also need these items
- Change of clothing, extra shoes, and toiletries
- Important papers such as insurance, or lease agreements
- Any necessary medications, glasses
Keep these items stored in a plastic container so they will be ready at a moment’s notice if you need to evacuate.
During a Flood
During periods of heavy rain and potential for flooding, there are several safety concerns to keep in mind.
- Be aware of flash floods. If there is any possibility of a flash flood occurring, move immediately to higher ground.
- Use your weather radio or television stations for local information on conditions.
- Be aware of streams, drainage channels and areas known to flood suddenly.
- Secure your home. If you have time, bring outdoor garden equipment and lawn furniture inside or tie it down. Move essential items to the upper floors of your house.
- If instructed, turn off utilities at the main switches or valves.
- Fill your car with fuel.
- Sterilize the bathtub with liquid bleach and water, then fill the bathtub with fresh water in case water becomes contaminated or services are cut off. This water can be used for cooking and for drinking if boiled first.
Drinking water should be brought to a FULL ROLLING BOIL for ONE MINUTE and then COOLED BEFORE USE.
Boiling is a form of pasteurization. The term rolling boil facilitates communication and helps assure that an effective pasteurization temperature is reached. Research has established that boiling for one minute is very effective in destroying pathogens, including viruses, bacteria and protozoa such as Cryptosporidium and Giardia. The U.S. EPA and the Centers for Disease Control have both endorsed a one minute boiling time for drinking water.
- Stay away from flood waters. They could be contaminated.
- Do not walk through moving water. Six inches of moving water can knock you off your feet. If you must walk in a flooded area, 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 flood waters 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 as flood waters rise.
After the Flood
If you had to evacuate, check with local authorities, to see if it is safe and accessible to return to your home before you make the trip. Listen to local radio and TV stations also for information. If an area is not accessible and deemed dangerous, they will not let you through. Avoid flooded roads, watch out for washed out bridges, and beware of loose or downed power lines in the roadway.
Tips for Recovery
- If your home/business structure has suffered flood damage, contact your insurance agent as soon as possible.
- Check with Dixie Electric and to see if power has been disconnected to your structure before entering. If you see sparks, or broken/frayed wires, or smell anything burning, contact the Dixie Electric immediately to cut the power if you cannot reach the main circuit box yourself. Do not wade through water with live wires. Keep power off until an electrician can inspect your system for safety issues. Do not use any electrical appliances after your home has been flooded. Switches, outlets, and electrical appliances may have been damaged after being submerged in water and can be dangerous.
- Check for structural damage before you enter your home or place of business. If ok, open windows and doors to ventilate your home or business structure. Do not use candles, lighters or any type of open flame, there may be gas trapped inside. Use a flashlight to inspect.
- Check for water pipe damage and do not use toilets or faucets until it can be inspected by a plumber.
- Take pictures of any floodwater and/or damage to your personal property and your home’s structure. If possible, provide receipts for any damaged property to your insurance agent. Make a list of any items that may have been swept away in the flood.
- Boil water as a precaution for drinking and food preparation until authorities tell you that it is safe.
- When beginning cleanup, wear heavy duty gloves, waterproof boots and a mask. Wet debris can contain mold and other harmful bacteria; protect yourself. Use disinfectants with pine-oil cleansers and bleach that will kill bacteria and mold. Wait for items to completely dry for several days, then check for mold, fungus and any unusual odors before bringing back into your home.
- If looking for a contractor to help with cleanup or repair structural damage, make sure they are a legitimate licensed contractor or builder. Ask for reference, make a copy of their ID, and check online with the Better Business Bureau. Look for recommended contractors that are local to your area. Be wary of any contractor or person soliciting business and asking for payment up front. There are several online resources available also in helping you find an honest contractor.