FLOODING AND DAM BREAKS

Know Your Terms
Familiarize yourself with these terms to help identify a flood hazard:
Flood Watch:
Flooding is possible. Listen to NOAA Weather Radio

NOAA WEATHER RADIO

Flash Flood Watch:
Flash flooding is possible. Be prepared to move to higher ground;
listen to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.
Flood Warning:
Flooding is occurring or will occur soon; if advised to evacuate, do so immediately.
Flash Flood Warning:
A flash flood is occurring; seek higher ground on foot immediately

During a Flood
If a flood is likely in your area, you should:
∑ Listen to the radio or television for information.
∑ Be aware that flash flooding can occur. If there is any possibility of a
flash flood, move immediately to higher ground. Do not wait for instructions to move.
∑ Be aware of streams, drainage channels, canyons, and other areas known to flood suddenly.
Flash floods can occur in these areas with or without such typical warnings as rain clouds or heavy rain.
If you must prepare to evacuate, you should do the following:
∑ Secure your home. If you have time, bring in outdoor furniture.
Move essential items to an upper floor
∑ Turn off utilities at the main switches or valves if instructed to do so.
Disconnect electrical appliances. Do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet
or standing in water.
If you have to leave your home, remember these evacuation tips:
∑ Do not walk through moving water. Six inches of moving water can make you fall.
If you have to walk in water, walk where the water is not moving.
Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.
∑ Do not drive into flooded areas. If floodwaters rise around your car,
abandon the car and move to higher ground if you can do so safely.
You and the vehicle can be quickly swept away.
Driving Flood Facts
The following are important points to remember when driving in flood conditions:
∑ Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars causing
loss of control and possible stalling.
∑ A foot of water will float many vehicles.
∑ Two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles including sport utility vehicles (SUVís) and pick-ups.

After a Flood
The following are guidelines for the period following a flood:
∑ Listen for news reports to learn whether the communityís water supply is safe to drink.
∑ Avoid floodwaters; water may be contaminated by oil, gasoline, or raw sewage.
Water may also be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.
∑ Avoid moving water.
∑ Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded.
Roads may have weakened and could collapse under the weight of a car.
∑ Stay away from downed power lines, and report them to the power company.
∑ Return home only when authorities indicate it is safe.
∑ Stay out of any building if it is surrounded by floodwaters.
∑ Use extreme caution when entering buildings; there may be hidden damage, particularly in foundations.
∑ Service damaged septic tanks, cesspools, pits, and leaching systems as soon as possible.
Damaged sewage systems are serious health hazards.
∑ Clean and disinfect everything that got wet. Mud left from floodwater can
contain sewage and chemicals.
General Tips
Returning home can be both physically and mentally challenging. Above all, use caution.
Check for injuries. Do not attempt to move seriously injured persons unless they are in
immediate danger of death or further injury. If you must move an unconscious person,
first stabilize the neck and back, then call for help immediately.
∑ Keep a battery-powered radio with you so you can listen for emergency updates
and news reports.
∑ Use a battery-powered flash light to inspect a damaged home.
Note: The flashlight should be turned on outside before entering -
the battery may produce a spark that could ignite leaking gas, if present.
∑ Watch out for animals, especially poisonous snakes.
Use a stick to poke through debris.
∑ Be wary of wildlife and other animals
∑ Use the phone only to report life-threatening emergencies.
∑ Stay off the streets. If you must go out, watch for fallen objects;
downed electrical wires; and weakened walls, bridges, roads, and sidewalks.
Before You Enter Your Home
Walk carefully around the outside and check for loose power lines, gas leaks,
and structural damage. If you have any doubts about safety, have your residence
inspected by a qualified building inspector or structural engineer before entering.
Do not enter if:
∑ You smell gas.
∑ Floodwaters remain around the building.
∑ Your home was damaged by fire and the authorities have not declared it safe.
Going Inside Your Home
When you go inside your home, there are certain things you should and should not do.
Enter the home carefully and check for damage. Be aware of loose boards and
slippery floors.
The following items are other things to check inside your home:
∑ Natural gas. If you smell gas or hear a hissing or blowing sound,
open a window and leave immediately. Turn off the main gas valve from the outside, if you can.
Call the gas company from a neighborís residence.
If you shut off the gas supply at the main valve, you will need a professional
to turn it back on. Do not smoke or use oil, gas lanterns, candles, or torches
for lighting inside a damaged home until you are sure there is no leaking gas or
other flammable materials present.
∑ Sparks, broken or frayed wires. Check the electrical system unless you are wet,
standing in water, or unsure of your safety. If possible, turn off the electricity
at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. If the situation is unsafe, leave the building and call for help.
Do not turn on the lights until you are sure theyíre safe to use.
You may want to have an electrician inspect your wiring.
∑ Roof, foundation, and chimney cracks. If it looks like the building may collapse,
leave immediately.
∑ Appliances. If appliances are wet, turn off the electricity at the main
fuse box or circuit breaker. Then, unplug appliances and let them dry out.
Have appliances checked by a professional before using them again.
Also, have the electrical system checked by an electrician before turning the
power back on.
∑ Water and sewage systems. If pipes are damaged, turn off the main water valve.
Check with local authorities before using any water; the water could be contaminated.
Pump out wells and have the water tested by authorities before drinking.
Do not flush toilets until you know that sewage lines are intact.
∑ Food and other supplies. Throw out all food and other supplies that you suspect
may have become contaminated or come in to contact with floodwater. Your basement.
If your basement has flooded, pump it out gradually (about one third of the water per day) to avoid damage.
The walls may collapse and the floor may buckle if the basement is pumped out while the surrounding
ground is still waterlogged.
∑ Open cabinets. Be alert for objects that may fall.
∑ Clean up household chemical spills. Disinfect items that may have been
contaminated by raw sewage, bacteria, or chemicals. Also clean salvageable items.
∑ Call your insurance agent. Take pictures of damages.
Keep good records of repair and cleaning costs.
Removing Mold from Your Home
Dealing with Mold and Mildew in Your Flood Damaged Home
After natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods, excess moisture and
standing water contribute to the growth of mold in homes and other buildings.
Be aware that mold may be present and may be a health risk for your family,
if your home has water damage due to:
∑ Flooding,
∑ Sewage back-up,
∑ Plumbing or roof leaks,
∑ Damp basements or crawl space,
∑ Overflows from sinks or bathtub, or
∑ High humidity: steam cooking, dryer vents, humidifiers.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency website contains information on mold cleanup
and remediation in homes, schools and other large commercial buildings.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website includes general
background information about mold health hazards and mold safety recommendations.

CDC
Saving Family Treasures Guidelines
∑ General Information on What to Do with Wet Records National Archives and Records Administration
NARA
SAVING PHOTOGRAPHS AFTER THE FLOOD
"Photographs and photo albums are often the only records of momentous occasions like weddings,
birthdays, and graduations," Sarah Wagner, senior photograph conservator at the National Archives
and Records Administration (NARA) said. "If the flood has damaged them, saving them may be possible.
Remember that if flood waters did not damage the negatives, you can make new prints anytime.
"Damaged photographs for which there are no negatives should receive attention first.
Once photographs have stuck together or become moldy, saving them may not be possible.
Handle wet photos carefully; the surfaces may be fragile. Wet photos may be rinsed in clean water
(if needed) and sealed in a plastic garbage bag with a tie or a ziploc type plastic bag.
If possible, put wax paper between each photograph. If a freezer is available,
freeze the photos immediately. Later, the photos may be defrosted, separated and air-dried.
If no freezer or refrigerator is available, rinse wet photos in clean water and dry them,
face up, in a single layer on a clean surface (a table, window screen,
or clean plastic laid out on the ground). Avoid drying the photos in direct sunlight.
Don' t worry if the photos curl as they dry. A photo expert can be contacted later
about flattening them.
"Conservators can help you with severely damaged and valuable materials," Wagner said.
Contact AIC for a list of conservators in your area;
(202) 452-9545 ext 1. info@aic-faic.org
Ways to Plan Ahead
∑ Know your risk. Do you live downstream from a dam? Is the dam a high-hazard
or significant-hazard potential dam? To find out, contact your state or county
emergency management agency or visit the National Inventory of Dams (NID)
or the Association of State Dam Safety Officials (ASDSO).
∑ Find out who owns the dam and who regulates the dam. This information also
should be available from your state or county emergency management agency,
NID, or ASDSO.
∑ Once you determine that you live downstream from a high-hazard or
significant-hazard potential dam and find out who owns the dam, see if a current
EAP is in place for the dam. An EAP is a formal document that identifies potential
emergency conditions at a dam and specifies preplanned actions to be followed to
reduce property damage and loss of life. An EAP specifies actions the dam owner should
take to take care of problems at the dam. It also includes steps to assist the dam owner
in issuing early warning and notification messages to responsible downstream emergency
management authorities of the emergency.
∑ If there is a dam failure or an imminent dam failure and you need to evacuate,
know your evacuation route and get out of harm's way. In general, evacuation planning and
implementation are the responsibility of the state and local officials responsible for your safety.
However, there may be situations where recreational facilities, campgrounds, or residences are located
below a dam and local authorities will not be able to issue a timely warning. In this case,
the dam owner should coordinate with local emergency management officials to determine who will warn you
and in what priority.

EPA

NATIONAL INVENTORY OF DAMS

ASSOC. OF DAM SAFETY

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