Floods

Flooding is when a lot of water overflows onto land that is normally dry. It is the most common natural-weather event. Flooding can happen during heavy rains, when rivers overflow, when ocean waves come on the shore, when snow melts too fast, or when dams or levees break. Flooding may be only a few inches of water, or it may cover a house to the rooftop. Floods that happen very quickly are called flash floods. Floods can cause power outages, disrupt transportation, damage buildings, and create landslides.

Words to Know

Floods can happen in every U.S. state and territory. Some floods develop slowly, and some can happen in just a few minutes. People who live in low-lying areas (near water sources or at sea-level) are at even greater risk. Storms and hurricanes can cause flooding. Melting snow from mountains can also cause floods.

Before

  • Build an emergency kit.
  • Make a family communications plan.
  • Tell an adult if you hear a flood warning on the TV or radio.
  • Help your family move important items to an upper floor.

During

  • Listen to authorities and safety officials. If there is any possibility of a flash flood, find shelter.

  • Do not walk, swim, or ride a car through flood waters. Even six inches of moving water can make you fall.
  • Stay off bridges over fast-moving water.

After

  • Do not touch electrical equipment if it is wet or if you are standing in water.
  • Stay away from flood water. Flood water may be contaminated by oil, gasoline, chemicals, or raw sewage.
  • Stay away from moving water. It can knock you off your feet.
  • Stay out of the way of emergency workers so they can do their job easily.
  • During clean up, wear heavy gloves and boots.

Did you know?

Flooding can wash out walkways, roads, and fields, making them impossible to detect under flood water. Do not walk or ride in a car through water. It might be deeper than you think! A foot of water can sweep a vehicle off the road. Stay away from moving water!

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