Here in Nebraska, we know all too well the damage flooding causes and the danger it poses. In 2019, the state saw some of the worst flooding in history after a too-rapid snow melt combined with frozen ground wreaked havoc with the state’s rivers. Especially those rivers below the dam system.
The flooding of 2019, caused by a bomb cyclone that brought heavy snow and rains and quickly melted faster than the rivers could handle, caused more than $2 billion in damages, claimed four lives, and left much of the state declared federal disaster areas.
Flooding Awareness Month
That event happened in March, which happens to be National Flood Awareness Month. The federal preparedness site, Ready.gov, urges people to have a disaster plan in place in case flooding occurs. Among the guidance: Do not walk, swim or drive through flood waters. Turn Around, Don’t Drown!
- Just six inches of moving water can knock you down, and one foot of moving water can sweep your vehicle away.
- Stay off of 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.
Make a plan
Ready.gov also has recommendations on specifics around formulating your emergency plan:
- 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 and COVID-19.
- Build a “go kit” of the supplies you will need if you have to evacuate your home quickly.
- Know types of flood risk in your area. Visit FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center for information.
- 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. Sign up for email updates and follow the latest guidelines about coronavirus from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and your local authorities to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
- If flash flooding is a risk in your location, monitor potential signs, such as heavy rain.
- Learn and practice evacuation routes, shelter plans, and flash flood response.
- If you live in a storm surge flooding zone or a mandatory hurricane evacuation zone, make plans to stay with family or friends. Evacuate to shelters only if you are unable to stay with family or friends. Check with local authorities to determine which public shelters are open. Review your previous evacuation plan and consider alternative options to maintain social and physical distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Don’t forget to include your pet in your emergency plan. Remember that some evacuation shelters do not accept pets.