The American Red Cross is responding in Louisiana where heavy rains have caused widespread flooding, inundating homes and businesses and closing roads in Lafayette and Saint Martin parishes.
Several people had to be rescued when their vehicles became trapped in high water, including some middle school students whose school bus was stranded when water flooded the roadway. Red Cross workers are offering shelter and food to those affected.
SAFETY TIPS The Red Cross reminds people to stay away from the floodwaters. Other steps they should take to remain safe include the following:
- If someone comes upon a flowing stream where water is above their ankles, they should stop, turn around and go another way. Six inches of swiftly moving water can sweep a person off their feet.
- If someone comes upon a flooded road while driving, they should turn around and go another way. If caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around them, they should 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. They are curious and often lack judgment about running water or contaminated water.
- Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood danger.
FLOOD SAFETY AWARENESS WEEK This is Flood Safety Awareness Week, and the Red Cross wants people to know how to be prepared if flooding threatens their neighborhood. Floods can occur anywhere, at any time, throughout the United States and cause more damage in this country every year than any other weather-related disaster.
Flooding can be a local disaster affecting a single neighborhood, or very large, impacting entire river basins across many states. Some floods develop slowly, but flash floods can develop in just a few minutes without any rain. Residents should know if their neighborhood is at risk for flooding and be alert to the possibility of a flood. Listen to local radio or TV stations for possible warnings or other critical information from the National Weather Service (NWS).
The Red Cross has more safety steps people should follow if flooding threatens their home. If a flood or flash flood watch is issued, they should be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice. If a flood or flash flood warning is issued for their area, they should head for higher ground and stay there.
- If a flood WATCH is issued, it means a flood is possible in the area and residents should move furniture and valuables to higher floors of the home and make sure to fill their vehicle’s gas tank in case they have to evacuate.
- A flood WARNING means flooding is already occurring or will occur soon in the area. If a flood warning is issued, listen to local radio and television stations for information. If told to evacuate, do so as soon as possible.
- A flash flood WATCH means flash flooding is possible in the area. Be alert to signs of flash flooding and be ready to evacuate quickly.
- A flash flood WARNING means a flash flood is occurring or will occur very soon. If a flash flood warning is issued, evacuate immediately. There may only be seconds to escape. Act quickly and move to higher ground away from rivers, streams, creeks and storm drains. Do not drive around barricades. If the car stalls in rapidly rising waters, abandon it immediately and climb to higher ground.
People can find more information on how to respond to a flooding threat in the preparedness section of the Red Cross web site.
People should be aware that standard homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flooding, so it’s important to have protection. For more information on flood insurance, please visit the National Flood Insurance Program web site.