(Washington, DC) The National Weather Service has declared March 19–22, 2007, as National Flood Safety Awareness Week. Flooding is a coast-to-coast threat to the United States and its territories in all months of the year. National Flood Safety Awareness Week is intended to highlight some of the many ways floods can occur, the hazards associated with floods, and what citizens can do to save life and property.
During Flood Awareness Week, the DC Emergency Management Agency urges residents to conduct a self-assessment and be better prepared. Protect yourself, your family, your property, your business and your community from the effects of floods.
Floods and Flash Floods
Nationwide, many communities experience damages due to flooding. Floods are among the most frequent and costly natural disasters in terms of human hardship and economic loss. During the winter, floods can result from snow combining with rain. In the spring and summer, intense rain associated with thunderstorms and tropical cyclones have the potential to inundate coastal and inland areas.
Protect yourself in a flood. Head for higher ground and avoid flooded areas. Even a shallow depth of fast-moving floodwater produces more force than most people imagine. It is exceedingly dangerous to try to walk, swim, or drive in floodwater. Two feet (0.6 meters) of water will carry away most vehicles, including sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and pickup trucks.
There are several measures you can take to protect your family and property.
- Have a Plan and a Go-Kit. Develop and test your Family Disaster Plan and prepare your disaster kit (Go-Kit). Consider any specific needs you may have during a flood event. Refer to the DC Emergency Management Agency, “Family Preparedness” and “It’s A Disaster” Guides for additional information preparing your disaster plan and disaster kit.
- Have Insurance. Remember, the regular home insurance policies do not provide coverage for seepage, basement flooding and sewage damages. Check your policies before the next event to assure you have enough coverage.
- Test your Evacuation Plan. Every family member should be familiar the nearest evacuation routes to safe locations in elevated areas. Remember, to consult your local news station for information on closure of flooded streets and available shelters.
- Allow Sufficient Time to Prepare. Listen continuously to local radio and television news stations for weather developments. During a flood watch, finalize last minute preparations early and be ready to quickly take action, as directed by local authorities. During a flood warning, watch for signs of flooding. If live in a flood prone area and think you are at risk, evacuate immediately to higher ground.
Flooding Do’s and Don’ts
- Check on neighbors who may require special assistance. The elderly, persons with disabilities and families with small children may require additional help during emergencies.
- Alert local officials of unsafe conditions. Refer to the DC Family Preparedness or “It’s A Disaster” guides for a complete listing of emergency contact numbers.
- Listen for news bulletins on the radio or television. During an emergency, listen to your local news or radio for instructions on evacuation routes and shelter locations. The primary news radio stations are WTOP 820 AM, 103.5 FM, WMAL 630 AM, WJZW 105.9 FM, WKYS 93.9 FM and WPGC 95.5 FM.
- Prepare your companion animals. Refer to the DC Family Preparedness or “It’s a Disaster” guides for specific information to assemble a Go-Kit for your pet.
- Avoid flood areas. Low-lying areas can rapidly fill with water.
- Do not attempt to walk or drive through flooded streets. Find another route. You may be trapped by rapid rising water.
- Do not enter flooded buildings. Wait until local building officials indicate conditions are safe for you to enter.
- Protect your property. Build barriers and landscape around homes or buildings to stop or reduce floodwaters and mud from entering. Also, consider sealing basement walls with waterproofing compounds and installing “check valves” in sewer traps to prevent flood water from backing up into drains. Secure valuable items or move them to another location, if possible.
View copies of the District of Columbia Family Preparedness Guide and the “It’s A Disaster” preparedness, prevention and first aid manual by visiting the District of Columbia Emergency Management Agency website.
Contact the District of Columbia Emergency Management Agency, Hazard Mitigation Officer on (202) 727-6161, for additional information regarding personal preparedness, prevention and protection measures.