Flood Awareness Week + flood mitigation and safety resources

March 15, 2014

National Flood Awareness week is a nationwide campaign each March designed to highlight some of the many ways floods can occur, the hazards associated with floods, and what you can do to save life and property.

But keep in mind floods can happen anytime and anyplace. Some floods develop over a period of several days, but a flash flood can cause raging waters in just a few minutes.

Mudflows are another danger triggered by flooding. Mudflows are rivers of rock, earth, and other debris soaked with water mostly caused by melting snow or heavy rains that creates a slurry. A slurry can travel several miles from its source and grows in size as it picks up trees, cars, and other things along the way.

Did you know…

  • floods are the most common natural disaster … and flood damage is the second most common disaster-related expense of insured losses reported worldwide?
  • all Americans live in a flood zone – it’s just a question of whether you live in a low, moderate or high risk area?
  • nearly half of all flash flood fatalities are vehicle-related?

Turn Around…Don’t Drown

flood-turn-around-dont-drown2Speaking of vehicles, a major NOAA National Weather Service campaign all states have been promoting for years is “Turn Around…Don’t Drown” or TADD.

In fact, several states are cracking down on people who drive around barricades into flooded areas who then become stranded.

For example, since 1995 Arizona has had a “Stupid Motorist Law” meaning any motorist who becomes stranded after driving around barricades to enter a flooded stretch of roadway can be charged for the cost of his/her rescue. And if public emergency services are called to rescue the motorist and tow the vehicle out of danger, the cost of those services can be billed to the motorist, up to a maximum of $2,000.

Both Pennsylvania and Tennessee have similar laws where motorists who drive around a barricade or flood warning sign and get stranded will face fines and possible restitution for the cost associated with any rescue efforts.

It’s a shame we even need statutes and laws such as these and would be nice if people would obey signs and barricades and not put themselves, their passengers and first responders in danger due to their actions. But people think their vehicle will keep them safe or they underestimate the power of water.

Before you try to drive through a flooded area, remember it only takes 18 to 24 inches (45 to 60 cm) of water to lift your car or SUV. Once your vehicle becomes buoyant; the water will easily push it sideways. Most vehicles will then tend to roll over, trapping those inside and washing them downstream. And flooded roads may have hidden dangers, such as washed out roadbeds or underwater obstructions.

Some flood mitigation and safety tips

Find your flood map – To identify a community’s flood risk, FEMA conducts a Flood Insurance Study. The study includes statistical data for river flow, storm tides, hydrologic/hydraulic analyses, and rainfall and topographic surveys. FEMA uses this data to create the flood hazard maps that outline your community’s different flood risk areas. Visit www.floodsmart.gov to find your local flood map.

Get flood insurance – Regular insurance companies will cover some claims due to water damage like a broken water main or a washing machine that goes berserk. However, standard home insurance policies DO NOT generally cover flood (or mud) damage caused by natural events or disasters!

The U.S. offers a National Flood Insurance Program available in most communities and there is a waiting period for coverage. Both homeowners and renters can get flood insurance as long as your community participates in the NFIP.

Did you know…

  • you do not have to “own” a home to have flood insurance as long as your community participates in the NFIP?
  • NFIP offers coverage even in flood-prone areas and offers basement and below ground level coverage?!
  • if you live in a moderate-to-low risk area and are eligible for NFIP’s Preferred Risk Policy, your flood insurance premium may be as low as $129 a year, including coverage for your property’s contents?!

Talk to your insurance agent or call the National Flood Insurance Program at 1-888-379-9531 or visit www.floodsmart.gov

Currently Canadians do not have a national flood program, however certain parts of Canada offer limited flood-damage coverage but it must be purchased year-round and rates are relatively high. Visit www.ibc.ca

Get weather radios – NOAA Weather Radio or Environment Canada Weatheradio with battery backup and tone-alert feature can alert you when Watches or Warnings have been issued.

Move valuables to higher ground
 – If your home or business is prone to flooding, you should move valuables and appliances out of the basement or ground level floors.

Elevate breakers, fuse box and meters – Consider phoning a professional to elevate the main breaker or fuse box and utility meters above the anticipated flood level so flood waters won’t damage your utilities. Also consider putting heating, ventilation and air conditioning units in the upper story or attic to protect from flooding.

Protect your property – Build barriers and landscape around homes or buildings to stop or reduce floodwaters and mud from entering. Also consider sealing basement walls with waterproofing compounds and installing “check valves” in sewer traps to prevent flood water from backing up into drains.

Learn risks – Ask your local emergency management office if your property is a flood-prone or high-risk area and what you can do to reduce risks to your property and home. Find out what official flood warning signals are and what to do when you hear them. Ask if there are dams or levees nearby and if they could be hazards.

Make a plan – Develop a Family Emergency Plan (e.g. map out evacuation routes, decide where you and your family will meet if separated, teach family members how to shut off main utility switches, discuss what to do with pets and critters, etc). And assemble Disaster Supplies Kits in case you have to bail.

Stay safe – Floodwaters may be contaminated by oil, gasoline or raw sewage or may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.

Other disasters – Be aware flooding can also cause landslides and mudflows. Listen for trees cracking, rocks banging together or water flowing rapidly (esp. if near a stream or river) – debris flow may be close by.

In addition to the below resources, consider learning more about Fedhealth’s customizable disaster preparedness and first aid manual for your public outreach efforts.

Our IT’S A DISASTER! book qualifies as community education on grants and provides about a $3 or $4-to-$1 return on match since we discount it up to 70% off list (or as low as $4.50 U.S. each) and customize it for free.

Plus we have collaborative Public-Private Partnership ideas to help fund volunteers and schools and educate local communities while saving people money! It’s a whole community approach to resilience and preparedness that can complement your Awareness campaigns. Learn more and download a free mini ebook

Additional resources 

Flood safety tips (3-pg PDF from our IT’S A DISASTER! book)

The Cost of Flooding (interactive tool shows what a flood to your home could cost inch by inch)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mold cleanup tips

EPA 20-page guide called “Mold, Moisture and Your Home

EPA Safewater site (emergency disinfecting data, tips for well & septic owners, etc)

National Flood Insurance Program + Flood maps

National Landslide Information Center

NOAA’s National Weather Service Flood Safety page

Ready.gov Flood safety


National Severe Weather Preparedness Week March 2-8, 2014 #BeAForce

February 28, 2014

Photo: FEMAMost states across the U.S. set aside a week in February or March to observe their own local Severe Weather Awareness week , but NOAA, FEMA and others will be promoting National Severe Weather Preparedness Week March 2-8, 2014.

As we’ve seen year after year, March brings all kinds of wild weather and chaos like thunderstorms, tornadoes, high winds and flooding. And there are still chances of snow storms and hard freezes in various parts of the country so we all need to be prepared for Mother Nature’s mood swings.

The goal of National Severe Weather Preparedness Week is to inform the public about severe weather hazards and provide knowledge which can be used to prepare and take action. These actions can be used to save lives anywhere – at home, in schools, and in the workplace before extreme weather strikes. As NOAA says… Be a Force of Nature by knowing your risk, taking action and being an example where you live.

Facts & Figures

In 2013, there were seven weather and climate disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each across the United States according to NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center. These events included five severe weather and tornado events, a major flood event, and the western drought/heat wave. Overall, these events killed 109 people and had significant economic effects on the areas impacted.

Globally, losses from natural catastrophes in 2013 were somewhat moderate: the direct overall losses of around US$125bn remained below the average of the past ten years (US$184bn) according to Munich Re. Sadly, in a total of 880 major disasters around the world in 2013, more than 20,000 people were killed, but this figure is significantly below the average of the past ten years (106,000).

Take the Next Step 

NOAA and FEMA’s Be a Force of Nature: Take the Next Step campaign encourages the public to take a single preparedness action during each day of National Severe Weather Preparedness Week.

For example, according to NOAA’s Social Media Plan, daily themes include…

  • Sunday, March 2nd – National Severe Weather Preparedness Week Launch
  • Monday, March 3rd – Know your Severe Weather Risk
  • Tuesday, March 4th – Build an Emergency Kit
  • Wednesday, March 5th – Make an Emergency Plan
  • Thursday, March 6th – Emergency Alert Warnings
  • Friday, March 7th – Be a Force of Nature – Take Action
  • Saturday, March 8th – Summary

In addition to the below educational resources, visit NOAA’s online toolkit page to find some materials, social media tools, a poster and more to help spread the word during National Severe Weather Preparedness Week.

Flood and Tsunami Awareness Weeks also in March

March 16 – 22, 2014 is National Flood Awareness week intended to highlight some of the many ways floods can occur, the hazards associated with floods, and what you can do to save life and property.

Visit www.nws.noaa.gov/floodsafety/ orwww.nws.noaa.gov/floodsafety/floodsafe.shtml to find tools, tips, brochures, videos and more.

And Tsunami Awareness Week is March 23 – 29, 2014 is designed to help cities, towns, counties, universities and other large sites in coastal areas reduce the potential for disastrous tsunami-related consequences using National Weather Service’s TsunamiReady program. Learn more at www.tsunamiready.noaa.gov 

Learn more

FLOOD resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mold cleanup tips

EPA’s 20-page guide, “Mold, Moisture and Your Home”

FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program

Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety Flood page

NOAA’s Flood Safety page

Ready Campaign flood safety awareness page

THUNDERSTORM and LIGHTNING Resources

National Weather Service Lightning Safety site

NWS Lightning Safety Tools for Teachers

Ready Campaign Thunderstorms & Lightning page

TORNADO Resources

Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety Tornado page

NOAA Tornado safety tips

More NOAA Tornado tips

Ready Campaign Tornado page

The Tornado Project Online!

Or visit your state or local Emergency Management, Health, Fire, Police or Sheriff department’s website to find local emergency information, safety tips and tools to help you and your loved ones prepare for severe weather outbreaks.

Also learn more about our collaborative Public-Private Partnership ideas associated with our customizable book to help fund volunteers and first responders and educate local communities while saving them money! It’s a whole community approach to resilience and preparedness and can complement your Awareness campaigns. Read more


Colorado floods (photos plus resources for victims and tips on how you can help)

September 23, 2013

flood-co homes2-smThe recent floods in Colorado destroyed about 2,000 homes in 17 counties, especially in hardest hit Boulder and Larimer counties.

Floodwaters have also damaged about 200 miles of road and 50 bridges, causing more than $2 billion in property losses and are blamed for spills of about 27,000 gallons of oil in northern Colorado oilfields.

As of today (23-Sep-2013), the confirmed death toll stands at eight and the number of missing has dropped to six, according to officials.

We’ve compiled some photos of the devastation from the National Guard and DoD archives, and including several links and resources at the bottom for those dealing with the disaster, as well as those who want to help communities impacted by the floods and landslides.

flood-co ng

U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Joseph K. VonNida

flood-co evac ng

U.S. Soldiers evacuate fifth-grade students from Firewood Elementary and the Denver public school system from Cal-wood and Balarat Camps during search and rescue operations from homes between Boulder and Lyons, Colo., Sept. 14, 2013. Colorado and Wyoming National Guard units were activated to provide assistance to people affected by massive flooding along Colorado’s Front Range. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Wallace Bonner/Released)

Floating cars

U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Wallace Bonner

flood-co home fema

Jamestown, Colo., Sep. 15, 2013 — The small mountain town of 300 has been cut off because of Boulder County flood. FEMA Urban Search & Rescue (US&R) teams deployed to the state to help in Search and Rescue operations. Steve Zumwalt/FEMA

flood-co road army

U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jonathan C. Thibault

Individuals in Colorado’s Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Clear Creek, El Paso, Jefferson, Larimer, Logan and Weld counties can apply for assistance and locate a Disaster Recovery Center

Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHSEM) and Colorado Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (COVOAD) have launched a website with data for people wanting to help those impacted by the Colorado floods and wildfires at www.helpcoloradonow.net

Also please read It’s A Disaster! Now what..? to learn more about the declaration process, tips on what to do (and not do) to help disaster victims, and more.

Our hearts go out to the families and businesses dealing with the disasters in Colorado and elsewhere around our planet. Remember … emergencies and disasters happen each and every day so learn how to prepare for and recover from various types of scenarios by downloading some free preparedness topics from our IT’S A DISASTER! book and please share them (and this post) with others.

Take care and stay safe out there, j & B

Sources: ABC News , DoD  and FEMA 


FloodSax – the sandless sandbag that is revolutionizing flood preparedness

March 20, 2013

floodsax2We included FloodSax as a “Cool Link / Idea” in our March enews, but we wanted to share more about them here since this is such a revolutionary product.

Plus, since it is National Flood Awareness week (March 18 – 22, 2013), this is a perfect opportunity to share tips about things you can do to help protect your home and property from water damage.

Floods can happen anytime and anyplace. Some floods develop over a period of several days, but a flash flood can cause raging waters in just a few minutes.

Spring brings its share of flood events due to snowpack melt, ice jams and heavy rains as the temperatures begin to rise.

Communities use sandbags as a simple, inexpensive and effective way to prevent or reduce flood water damage, but it requires an army of volunteers and massive logistics to shovel tons of sand (or gravel or silt) into burlap or plastic bags and place them strategically around homes and businesses to keep rising waters at bay.

But sandbag construction does not guarantee a water-tight seal, plus certain types of bags are not biodegradable making the disposal process a major ordeal for communities.

FloodSax is the sandless sandbag that is revolutionizing the way homeowners, businesses and agencies prevent and reduce damage from floodwaters.

floodsaxAt only one pound, FloodSax avoid the storage, transport and placement problems of traditional sandbags, keep water at bay for 3 months, and are biodegradable.

FloodSax are stored dry and flat. A case of 20 FloodSax weigh less than a single 45 lb. sandbag, making delivery to the flood barrier location much faster and easier than with sandbags, allowing for greater protection in less time. In fact, one case of FloodSax equals 900 pounds of sand.

When FloodSax come into contact with water their semi-porous inner liner has hundreds of biodegradable polymer crystals that absorb up to 5.5 gallons, equal to 45 pounds of water, in just five minutes, making them more taut and more water-resistant than a sandbag.

Plus these sandless sandbags allow agencies to deliver and deploy sandbags much faster than is possible with traditional sandbags since there is no need for large trucks, massive amounts of sand and tons of volunteers to fill bags saving communities money, time and property.

Stephanie Abhrams, meteorologist and host of The Weather Channel’s “Weather Proof” puts FloodSax to the test in the following video…

FloodSax empowers virtually everyone regardless of age or ability to take action in protecting homes, businesses or communities from floods and accidental water damage.

Learn more at www.floodsax.us.com or contact them at 1-888-258-2142.

Update 4-Apr-2013: FloodSax is also available in Canada ~ learn more at www.floodsax.ca


%d bloggers like this: