Flash Flood Safety

Flash Flood Safety

Flash flood season in Clark County is July through September. Floods can happen any time of the year without warning.  flood2

Things You Should Know About Flooding

Floodwaters can be extremely dangerous. The force of just a few inches of swiftly moving water can knock people off their feet. The best protection during a flood is to leave the area and go to shelter on higher ground.

Cars can be easily swept away in fast moving floodwater. Never drive through any amount of floodwater. If you cant see the lines on the street, its too dangerous to risk trying to cross the intersection or area. Take the extra five minutes and find another route.

Flash flood waters move at very fast speeds and can roll boulders, tear out trees, destroy buildings, and obliterate bridges. Walls of water can reach heights of 10 to 20 feet and generally are accompanied by a deadly cargo of debris. The best response to any signs of flash flooding is to move immediately and quickly to higher ground.

Floods and flash floods occur within all 50 states, and Nevada is no exception. Communities particularly at risk are those located in low-lying areas, near water or downstream from a dam.

Floods are the most common and widespread of all natural disasters -- except fire. Most communities in the United States can experience some kind of flooding after spring rains, heavy thunderstorms or winter snow thaws. Floods can be slow or fast rising, but generally develop over a period of days.

Flash floods usually result from intense storms dropping large amounts of rain within a brief period.

Flash floods occur with little or no warning and can reach full peak in only a few minutes. 

The media can raise awareness about floods and flash floods by providing important information to the community. Here are some suggestions:

  • Disseminate emergency information, including tips on floods and flash floods. Localize the information by running the phone numbers of local emergency services offices, the American Red Cross and hospitals.
  • Interview county officials and elected leaders about recent flood control projects, land use management and building codes in floodplains.
  • Work with local emergency services and American Red Cross officials to prepare special reports for people with mobility impairments on what to do if an evacuation is ordered.
  • Periodically inform your community of local public warning systems.
  • During the July 1999 100-year flood, some areas of Clark County recorded as much as an astonishing three inches of rain in a 90-minute period.
  • Since 1982, 18 people have perished in Clark County floods. With every completed flood control improvement, a greater part of the community is protected from the dangers of floodwaters.
  • Individuals and business owners can protect themselves from flood losses by purchasing flood insurance through National Flood Insurance Program. Homeowner's policies do not cover flood damage. Information is available through local insurance agents and emergency management offices.
  • Flooding has caused the deaths of more than 10,000 people since 1900. Property damage from flooding now totals over $1 billion each year in the United States.
  • More than 2,200 lives were lost as a result of the Johnstown, Pennsylvania flood of 1889. This flood was caused by an upstream dam failure.
  • On July 31, 1976, the Big Thompson River near Denver overflowed after an extremely heavy storm. A wall of water 19 feet high roared down the Big Thompson Canyon where many people were camping. 140 people perished and millions of dollars of property were lost. 
The Clark County Regional Flood Control District's FloodSpot app (link to: http://www.befloodsafe.com/) provides notifications of flash flooding and real-time information during floods. You can download it for Apple and Android devices. More information also is available on the Flood Control District's website: www.regionalflood.org.

Flooding is a temporary overflow of water onto land that is normally dry. Floods are the most common natural disaster in the United States. Failing to evacuate flooded areas or entering flood waters can lead to injury or death.

Floods may:

  • Result from rain, snow, coastal storms, storm surges and overflows of dams and other water systems.
  • Develop slowly or quickly. Flash floods can come with no warning.
  • Cause outages, disrupt transportation, damage buildings and create landslides.

 If you are under a flood warning:

Illustration of a hand holding a smart phone with a flood warning alert.
  • Find safe shelter right away
  • Do not walk, swim or drive through flood waters. Turn Around, Don’t Drown!
  • Remember, just six inches of moving water can knock you down, and one foot of moving water can sweep your vehicle away.
  • Stay off bridges over fast-moving water.
  • Depending on the type of flooding:
    • Evacuate if told to do so.
    • Move to higher ground or a higher floor.
    • Stay where you are.

Preparing for a Flood

Know Your Risk for Floods
Visit FEMA's Flood Map Service Center to know types of flood risk in your area.  Sign up for your community’s warning system. The Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio also provide emergency alerts.

Purchase Flood Insurance
Purchase or renew a flood insurance policy. Homeowner’s insurance policies do not cover flooding. It typically takes up to 30 days for a policy to go into effect so the time to buy is well before a disaster. Get flood coverage under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

Preparing for a Flood
Make a plan for your household, including your pets, so that you and your family know what to do, where to go, and what you will need to protect yourselves from flooding. Learn and practice evacuation routes, shelter plans, and flash flood response. Gather supplies, including non-perishable foods, cleaning supplies, and water for several days, in case you must leave immediately or if services are cut off in your area.

In Case of Emergency
Keep important documents in a waterproof container. Create password-protected digital copies. Protect your property. Move valuables to higher levels. Declutter drains and gutters. Install check valves. Consider a sump pump with a battery.

Staying Safe During a Flood

a car stopped at a flooded road. Sign reads warning, flood area. Evacuate immediately, if told to evacuate. Never drive around barricades. Local responders use them to safely direct traffic out of flooded areas.
    • Contact your healthcare provider If you are sick and need medical attention. Wait for further care instructions and shelter in place, if possible. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 9-1-1.
    • Listen to EAS, NOAA Weather Radio or local alerting systems for current emergency information and instructions regarding flooding.
    • Do not walk, swim or drive through flood waters. Turn Around. Don’t Drown!
    • Stay off bridges over fast-moving water. Fast-moving water can wash bridges away without warning.
    • Stay inside your car if it is trapped in rapidly moving water. Get on the roof if water is rising inside the car.
    • Get to the highest level if trapped in a building. Only get on the roof if necessary and once there signal for help. Do not climb into a closed attic to avoid getting trapped by rising floodwater.

Staying Safe After a Flood

  • Illustration of a gloved hand cleaning up personal belongings from flood waters in their home. Pay attention to authorities for information and instructions. Return home only when authorities say it is safe.
  • Avoid driving except in emergencies.
  • Wear heavy work gloves, protective clothing and boots during clean up and use appropriate face coverings or masks if cleaning mold or other debris. 
  • People with asthma and other lung conditions and/or immune suppression should not enter buildings with indoor water leaks or mold growth that can be seen or smelled. Children should not take part in disaster cleanup work.
  • Be aware that snakes and other animals may be in your house.
  • Be aware of the risk of electrocution. Do not touch electrical equipment if it is wet or if you are standing in water. Turn off the electricity to prevent electric shock if it is safe to do so.
  • Avoid wading in floodwater, which can be contaminated and contain dangerous debris. Underground or downed power lines can also electrically charge the water.
  • Use a generator or other gasoline-powered machinery ONLY outdoors and away from windows.

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