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Flood Safety Information


Flood Safety Information

What You Can Do Before a Flood
  • Know the terms used to describe flooding:
    • Flood Watch -- Flooding is possible. Stay tuned to NOAA radio or commercial radio or television for additional information.
    • Flash Flood Watch -- Flash flooding is possible. Move to higher ground. A flash flood could occur without any warning. Listen to NOAA radio or commercial radio or television for additional 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.
    • Urban and Small Stream Advisory -- Flooding of small streams, streets and low-lying areas is occurring.
  • Beware of flood hazards, especially if you live in a low-lying area, near water or downstream from a dam. Even very small streams, gullies, creeks, culverts and dry streambeds or low-lying ground that appear harmless in dry weather can flood.
  • Identify dams in your area and determine whether they pose a hazard.
  • Talk to your family about flooding. Plan a place to meet your family in case you are separated from one another in a disaster and cannot return home.
  • Plan how you would care for family members who may live elsewhere but might need your help in a flood. Be prepared to assist neighbors, especially the elderly or disabled.
  • Assemble a disaster supplies kit. Include a battery-operated radio, flashlights and extra batteries, first aid supplies, sleeping supplies, and clothing. Keep a stock of food and extra drinking water.
  • Know how to shut off electricity, gas and water at main switches and valves. Know where gas pilots are located and how the heating system works.
  • Consider purchasing flood insurance. Flood losses are not covered under homeowners' insurance polices.
  • Consider floodproofing your home. Information is available through this department.
  • Make a record of your personal property. Take photographs or videotape of your belongings and store these records in a safe place.
  • Keep insurance policies, deeds, property records and other important papers in a safe place away from your home.

What To Do During Heavy Rains
  • Be aware of flash floods. If there is any possibility of a flash flood occurring, move immediately to higher ground. Do not wait for instructions to move.
  • Listen to radio or television stations for instructions on evacuations and shelters.
  • Be aware of streams, drainage channels and areas known to flood suddenly.
  • If local authorities issue a flood watch, prepare to evacuate.
  • Stay away from flood waters; they could be contaminated.
  • Never try to walk, swim, or drive through swift water. If you come upon flood waters, stop, turn around, and go another way. If you must walk in a flooded area, walk where water is not moving. Even six inches of fast-moving flood water can knock you off your feet and a depth of two feet will float your car!
  • 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 swept away as flood waters rise.

What To Do After a Flood
  • Stay away from flood waters. The water may be contaminated by oil, gasoline or raw sewage. The water may also be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.
  • Stay away from moving water.
  • Be aware of areas where flood waters have receded. Roads may have weakened and could collapse under the weight of a car.
  • Stay away from downed power lines and report them to American Electric Power at 800-956-4237, a toll-free number.
  • Stay away from disaster areas unless authorities approve entrance.
  • Continue listening to a battery-powered radio for information about where to get assistance for housing, clothing, and food. Outreach programs are often available to help you cope with the stress of the situation.
  • Numerous health issues will arise following a flood. Listen for special announcements from the Virginia Department of Health relative to proper precautions. Wash your hands frequently with soap and clean water if you come in contact with flood waters. Throw away food that has come in contact with flood waters. Listen for news reports to learn whether tap water is safe to drink.
  • Contact your insurance agent.