Are You Ready?


Floods are one of the most common hazards in the United States. Flood effects can be local, impacting a neighborhood or community, or very large, affecting entire river basins and multiple states.

However, all floods are not alike. Some floods develop slowly, sometimes over a period of days. But flash floods can develop quickly, sometimes in just a few minutes and without any visible signs of rain. Flash floods often have a dangerous wall of roaring water that carries rocks, mud, and other debris and can sweep away most things in its path. Overland flooding occurs outside a defined river or stream, such as when a levee is breached, but still can be destructive. Flooding can also occur when a dam breaks, producing effects similar to flash floods.

Be aware of flood hazards no matter where you live, but especially if you live in a low-lying area, near water or downstream from a dam. Even very small streams, gullies, creeks, culverts, dry streambeds, or low-lying ground that appear harmless in dry weather can flood. Every state is at risk from this hazard.

Image of flood damage by state measured in dollars per year

What Would You Do?

You and your family moved from a city neighborhood in San Francisco, CA, to a suburb of Phoenix, AZ. Since earthquakes were a threat in your area, you always kept some extra food, water, and other supplies on hand and maintained an earthquake insurance policy, just in case something happened. You think this kind of preparation is no longer necessary based on what your neighbors have told you. According to them, the biggest threat they face is lack of water caused by the very dry weather. You continue to see public service announcements from the federal government about flood insurance and the need to protect yourself from flood damage. Surely, there would be no need for flood insurance where you live with its bare hills, deep canyons, and dry land.

Are you at risk for flooding, or is this more of a risk to people who live elsewhere? Yes or No

Is there a need to have a disaster plan and a disaster supplies? Yes or No

Should you consider purchasing flood insurance? Yes or No

Know the Terms
Familiarize yourself with these terms to help identify a flood hazard:

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.

Take Protectice Measures

Before a Flood
To prepare for a flood, you should:

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

If you must prepare to evacuate, you should do the following:

Image of flooded house

If you have to leave your home, remember these evacuation tips:

Driving Flood Facts
The following are important points to remember when driving in flood conditions:

After a Flood
The following are guidelines for the period following a flood:

Additional Information

Flood Insurance
Consider the following facts:

Knowledge Check
Decide whether the following statements are true or false. Check the appropriate column. When you have finished, check your answers using the answer key.

True or False Statements

  1. Flood emergencies occur in only 12 states.
  2. A "flood watch" announcement on the radio indicates that flooding is possible.
  3. Flash floods may occur with little warning.
  4. Flood risk varies from one region to another.
  5. National flood insurance is available only for buildings within an identified flood-prone area.
  6. It is safe to walk through floodwater if you can see the ground under it.
  7. It takes at least 3 feet of floodwater to make a motorized vehicle float.
  8. After flood waters recede from a roadway, the road could still be dangerous.
  9. To prepare for a flood emergency, you should have a NOAA Weather Radio as well as a commercial radio.

For More Information

If you require more information about any of these topics, the following are resources that may be helpful.

FEMA Publications
After a Flood: The First Steps. L-198. Information for homeowners on preparedness, safety, and recovery from a flood.

Homeowner’s Guide to Retrofitting: Six Ways to Protect Your House from Flooding. L-235. A brochure about obtaining information about how to protect your home from flooding.

Homeowner’s Guide to Retrofitting: Six Ways to Protect Your House from Flooding. FEMA-312. A detailed manual on how to protect your home from flooding.

About the Flood: Elevating Your Floodprone House. FEMA-347. This publication is intended for builders, code officials and homeowners.

Protecting Building Utilities From Flood Damage. FEMA-348. This publication is intended for developers, architects, engineers, builders, code officials and homeowners.

American Red Cross
Repairing Your Flooded Home. sixty-page booklet about how to perform simple home repairs after flooding, including cleaning, sanitation, and determining which professionals to involve for various needed services. Local Red Cross chapters can order in packages of 10 as stock number A4477 for a nominal fee. Also available online at,1082,0_570_,00.html.

National Weather Service
Hurricane Flooding: A Deadly Inland Danger. 20052. Brochure describing the impact of hurricane flooding and precautions to take.

The Hidden Danger: Low Water Crossing. 96074E. Brochure describing the hazards of driving your vehicle in flood conditions.

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Last Modified: Friday, 30-May-2008 10:19:18 EDT