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What to Do in the Event of a Flood

The best time to take action to avoid flood damage and stay safe is before a flood ever happens. More people die from flood-related causes than any other natural hazard. The best thing you can do to stay safe and avoid property damage is to be prepared for a flood and follow established floodplain regulations.

Before a flood event...

Before the flood
  • Find out if you live in a floodprone area.
  • Be alert to weather conditions. Check your local radio station for emergency flood information released by the National Weather Service.
    • Flash Flood Watch means heavy rains could result in flash floods in specific areas.
    • Flash Flood Warning means flash flooding is imminent in specific areas. Be alert and be prepared for the possibility of a flood emergency.
  • Buy a flood insurance policy and make a list of personal property such as furniture, clothing, valuables, etc. and keep the policy and list in a safe place. You may also want to take photographs or videos of your home and property inside and out.
  • Determine the safest evacuation route to higher ground from your home or business.
  • Keep a portable radio, first aid kit, emergency food, water and cooking utensils, cash and credit cards, animal carriers and other pet provisions ready for use; make sure your flashlights are in working order.
  • Make sure all family members know how to turn off gas, electricity, and water. Teach children how to call 911 in an emergency.
During the flood

During a flood...

  • If you are near a major water course with an ALERT stream gage, monitor the ALERT system for rising waters.
  • Move to higher ground and stay there.
  • Call 911 for any flood emergencies.
  • Use your portable radio and stay tuned to a local station; follow all emergency instructions.
  • Stay away from the banks of flooded washes and rivers.
  • Do not attempt to walk or drive across flooded washes or streams.
  • Never drive around or cross barricaded street dip sections. More people drown in their cars than anywhere else.

After a flood...

After the flood
  • Read the Post Flood Requirements and Recommendations Handout
  • Flood dangers do not end when water begins to recede.
  • Stay clear of disaster areas.
  • Check for structural damage before entering a building.
  • Turn off the electricity before entering a flood-damaged building.
  • Be alert for gas leaks and use a flashlight to inspect for damage.
  • Stay away from downed or broken power lines and electrical wires.
  • Report any downed power lines to your utility company.
  • Do not handle electrical equipment in wet areas inside or outside of a structure.
  • Begin clean up measures as soon as possible to avoid health hazards.
  • Do not consume food, water or medicine that has come into contact with flood waters.
  • Find out how to repair any property damages that may have occurred. See for example the American Red Cross publication entitled "Repairing Your Flooded Home" for a good step-by-step process to get started with flood repairs. This publication is also available in a Spanish version titled "Cómo reparar su hogar inundado".