Floods are the most common and widespread of all natural disasters, except fire. In Georgia, most communities experience some kind of flooding after spring rains or heavy thunderstorms.
Floods can be slow or fast rising but generally develop over a period of days. Dam failures are potentially the worst flood events. When a dam fails, a gigantic quantity of water is suddenly let loose downstream, destroying anything in its path.
Flash floods usually result from intense storms dropping large amounts of rain within a brief period. They occur with little or no warning and can reach full peak in only a few minutes.
“Communities particularly at risk are those located in low-lying areas, near water or downstream from a dam,” said Georgia Emergency Management Agency Director Charley English.
Here is some information to help you develop a plan and be ready to act before the possibility of a flood or flash flood threatens you or your family:
Know what to expect
Know your area’s flood risk — if unsure, call your local emergency management agency office, planning and zoning department or local Red Cross chapter.
If it has been raining hard for several hours, or steadily raining for several days, be alert to the possibility of a flood.
Closely monitor a local radio station, TV station or NOAA weather radio for flood information.
Reduce potential flood damage by:
• Raising your furnace, water heater and electric panel if they are in areas of your home that may be flooded.
• Consult with a professional for further information if this and other damage reduction measures can be taken.
Floods can take several hours to days to develop
A flood watch means a flood is possible in your area.
A flood warning means flooding is already occurring or will occur soon in your area.
Flash floods can take only a few minutes to a few hours to develop. A flash flood watch means flash flooding is possible in your area. A flash flood warning means a flash flood is occurring or will occur very soon.
Prepare a family disaster plan
Check to see if you have insurance that covers flooding. If not, find out how to get flood insurance.
Keep insurance policies, documents, and other valuables in a safe-deposit box.