Melting snow in California and along the Mississippi River could cause flooding in the coming weeks and the American Red Cross urges people in these regions to make their preparations now.
CALIFORNIA Unusually warm temperatures in California could cause flooding well into the summer brought on by one of the state’s largest snowpacks on record melting faster than originally expected. The earlier storms dropped historical amounts of snow in the higher elevations, Tens of thousands of people were displaced and some now face a new threat as the snow melts and flooding starts again. The runoff from that snowpack combined with rivers, reservoirs and watersheds already swollen from three months of atmospheric rivers earlier this year has created dangerous conditions in many parts of the state.
MISSISSIPPI RIVER Parts of the Midwest are preparing for possible flooding as melting snow leaves multiple Mississippi River gauges in major flood stage. The National Weather Service reports a combination of snowmelt and rain could lead to flooding along much of the river. Devastating flooding could occur from Minnesota to Iowa with most river gauges in the area at major flood stage.
The Red Cross is preparing to respond if necessary and has steps people should follow to be ready and safe.
HOW TO GET READY Follow these steps to help make sure your family is prepared to either evacuate or shelter in place.
- Create an evacuation plan. Plan what to do in case you are separated from your family during an emergency and if you have to evacuate. Coordinate your plan with your child’s school, your work and your community’s emergency plans. Plan multiple routes to local shelters, register family members with special medical needs as required and make plans for pets. If you already have an emergency plan, update and it and review with family members so everyone knows what to do if an emergency occurs.
- Build an emergency kit with a gallon of water per person, per day, non-perishable food, a flashlight, battery-powered radio, first aid kit, medications, supplies for an infant and pets if applicable, a multi-purpose tool, personal hygiene items, copies of important papers, cell phone chargers, extra cash, blankets, maps of the area and emergency contact information. Because of the pandemic, include a mask for everyone in your household. If you already have a disaster kit, now is the time make sure the food and water is still okay to consume and that copies of important documents are up to date.
- Be informed. Find out how local officials will contact you during a wildfire emergency and how you will get important information, such as evacuation orders.
- Turn around, don’t drown! Stay off the roads. If you must drive and you encounter a flooded roadway, turn around and go another way.
- Follow evacuation routes and do not try to take shortcuts because they may be blocked.
- Stay away from floodwaters. Beware of snakes, insects and other animals that may be in or around floodwaters and your home.
- Keep children and pets away from hazardous sites and floodwaters.
- Do not use water that could be contaminated to wash dishes, brush teeth, prepare food, wash hands, make ice or make baby formula.
- Offer to help people who require special assistance including older adults, those without transportation, large families, people with disabilities and the people who care for them.
- If power lines are down outside your home, do not step in puddles or standing water. Report them immediately to the power company.
- If any gas or electrical appliances were flooded, don’t use them until they have been checked for safety.
- Dispose of any food that has come into contact with flood water.
DOWNLOAD the free Red Cross First Aid app so you’ll know what to do if emergency help is delayed and the free Emergency app for weather alerts, open Red Cross shelter locations and safety steps for different emergencies. Choose whether you want to view the content in English or Spanish with an easy-to-find language selector. Find these and all of the Red Cross apps in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.