Much of the eastern half of the country is under some kind of flood watch or warning as a huge storm travels from the south toward the mid-Atlantic and New England states, bringing heavy rains to areas where the ground is already saturated.
Flooding can occur when heavy or steady rain has occurred for several hours or days, saturating the ground. Flash floods occur suddenly due to rapidly rising water along a stream or low-lying area.
The American Red Cross has steps people can take to remain safe should flooding threaten their neighborhood:
- Know what the warnings mean. A flood/flash flood watch means flooding is possible in your area. A flood/flash flood warning means flooding is already occurring or will occur soon in your area.
- Listen to area radio and television stations and a NOAA Weather Radio for possible flood warnings and reports of flooding in progress or other critical information from the National Weather Service (NWS).
- Be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice.
- When a flood or flash flood warning is issued for your area, head for higher ground and stay there.
- Stay away from floodwaters. If you come upon a flowing stream where water is above your ankles, stop, turn around and go another way. Six inches of swiftly moving water can sweep you off of your feet.
- If you come upon a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water.
- Keep children out of the water.
- Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood danger.
It’s important to be ready to leave quickly if flooding becomes a threat to your community. People should pack the following supplies:
- Water—at least a three-day supply; one gallon per person per day
- Food—at least a three-day supply of nonperishable, easy-to-prepare food
- Battery-powered or hand-crank radio and extra batteries
- First aid kit
- Medications and medical items
- Sanitation and personal hygiene items
- Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, deed/lease to home, birth certificates, insurance policies)
- Cell phone with chargers
- Family and emergency contact information
- Extra cash
- Emergency blanket
- Map(s) of the area
- Baby supplies
- Pet supplies
- Extra set of car keys and house keys
- Extra clothing, hat and sturdy shoes
- Rain gear
- Insect repellent and sunscreen
- Camera for photos of damage
More information on what you should do if flooding threatens your home is available on the preparedness section of the Red Cross web site.
March has been proclaimed Red Cross Month by President Barack Obama. During March, people can join the Red Cross in its lifesaving mission by becoming a Red Cross volunteer, giving blood, making a donation, or taking a class. More information is available through the almost 650 Red Cross chapters serving more than 2,000 locations across the country, or by visiting www.redcross.org.