ANCHORAGE, Alaska, April 14, 2020 — Floods are among the most frequent and costly natural disasters, and they often occur in Alaska in the spring. According to the National Weather Service, the spring breakup flood potential is above average this year, due to the current snowpack, temperature forecasts and reports of ice thickness from around the state.
“While the upcoming season brings the promise of warmer weather and longer days, it also brings a variety of conditions that can increase the risk of flooding,” said Shayne Jones, American Red Cross of Alaska Senior Disaster Program Manager. “It’s vitally important that residents along Alaska's major rivers prepare for this threat now.”
Because the potential for flooding is high in the coming weeks, it's important for residents to learn what they can do now to keep their loved ones safe, and how to react should a flood occur in their area:
BEFORE A FLOOD
- Prepare an emergency preparedness kit and a home clean-up kit (including items like a bucket, rubber gloves, shovel, etc.) and create a household emergency plan.
- Learn about your community’s flood response plan, be prepared to evacuate quickly and know your routes and destinations.
- Know the difference between a flood watch and a flood warning: A watch means a flood is possible in your area; a warning means flooding is already occurring or will occur soon in your area.
- Consider a precautionary evacuation of your animals, especially any large or numerous animals, such as dog teams. If unable to evacuate animals, bring in extra animal food. Waiting until the last minute could be fatal for them and dangerous for you.
DURING A FLOOD
- Listen to local area radio, NOAA radio or TV stations for the latest information and updates.
- Follow evacuation orders and don’t return until local officials say it is safe.
- Do not attempt to cross flowing rivers, streams or water-covered roadways. Even a small amount of water is enough to sweep you off your feet or your vehicle off the roadway. If you come across a flooded area, turn around and go another way.
- Do not use water that could be contaminated by floodwaters to wash dishes, brush teeth, prepare food, wash hands, make ice or make baby formula.
AFTER A FLOOD
- Check the outside of your home before you enter. Look for loose power lines, broken or damaged gas lines, missing support beams and other damage.
- Don’t use gas or electrical appliances that have been flooded until after they have been checked for safety.
- Boil tap water until supplies have been declared safe and dispose of any food, beverages or medicine that have come into contact with floodwater.
- Wear protective clothing, including rubber gloves and rubber boots, and be cautious when cleaning up. Throw out items that absorb water and cannot be cleaned or disinfected, including mattresses, carpeting, stuffed animals and baby toys.
For more flood safety tips to help keep you and your family safe this spring, please visit redcross.org/flood, print and complete a flood preparedness checklist,
and download the free Red Cross Emergency App for real-time weather alerts by searching for “American Red Cross” in app stores, or by visiting redcross.org/apps.
About the American Red Cross of Alaska:
In Fiscal Year 2019, the American Red Cross of Alaska responded to 435 disasters by offering food, shelter, relief supplies, comfort, hope and recovery services to 1,096 Alaskans in 50 communities statewide. Our preparedness teams installed 2,171 free smoke alarms and educated 1,409 youth through The Pillowcase Project. Our Training Services department enrolled 19,665 students in first aid/CPR/AED, aquatics and caregiving classes. Our Service to the Armed Forces staff exchanged 1,299 emergency messages for U.S. military service personnel and their families. The Red Cross is a nonprofit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. In Fiscal Year 2019, our statewide workforce of 729 volunteers logged 40,735 hours in service to our mission and their fellow Alaskans. For more information, please visit redcross.org/Alaska or visit us on Twitter at @redcrossak.