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American Public Transportation Association


Almost half of all flash flood deaths happen in vehicles. Driving through flash flood areas can be extremely hazardous. It's important to know how to avoid flash floods and what to do if you are caught in a flash flood. These tips were taken from FEMA and from the NOAA brochure, Floods: The Awesome Power (pdf).

Flood Terms

FEMA and the National Weather Service use the following terms to announce flood information:

Flood Watch: Flooding is possible. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.

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.

When the Water Comes

If you're expecting flooding in your area:

  • Keep the radio or television tuned to weather or emergency information.
  • Beware of flash flooding. Do not wait for instructions to move if authorities think flash flooding is possible.
  • Beware of streams, ditches, drainage channels, canyons, and other low-lying areas. Flash floods can happen in these places far from the storms that bring the rain.

If you must evacuate, you should do the following:

  • Secure your home.
  • If you have time, bring in outdoor furniture.
  • Move essential items up off the floor, or to an upper floor.
  • Unplug electrical appliances.
  • Turn off utilities (gas and electric) at the main switches or valves if instructed to do so.
  • Do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.
  • If you must walk through water, only go through standing water. Six inches of moving water can make you fall. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.
  • Driving through flooded areas is extremely dangerous.
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