There’s an old saying “Hope for the best but prepare for the worst” that offers good advice in encouraging each of us to be prepared when disaster strikes.
September is National Emergency Preparedness Month, and reminds us that it’s always best to have a plan, and to be aware that conditions can change quickly in the Brazos River basin. Storms can cause waters to rapidly rise and flood low-lying areas, and when the weather is dry, wildfires can quickly sweep across areas, devastating everything in their path.
Flash floods are usually characterized by raging torrents after heavy rains that rip through river beds, urban streets, or mountain canyons sweeping everything before them. They can occur within minutes or a few hours of excessive rainfall. They can also occur even if no rain has fallen, for instance after a levee or dam has failed, or after a sudden release of water caused by a breakup of debris.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has flood maps available online that can help you determine the risk to your property. For those living in flood-prone areas, the National Flood Insurance Program offers an opportunity to offset some of the risk.
To help you anticipate flooding in your area, the BRA’s list of gaging stations in the Brazos basin offers information on water levels and the rate of water flow, measured in cubic feet per second. During times of anticipated flooding, the NOAH Hydrologic Prediction Service links on the same page show the River Forecast Center’s predictions on when and how high river levels are expected to crest.
Wildfires, like the ones that struck the Possum Kingdom area in 2011 are also a frequent threat during hot Texas summers and periods of drought. There are numerous ways you may protect your home by eliminating combustible plant life and debris. And, knowing when to retreat can and will save lives. For more information on wildfire prevention and preparation, go here.
Here are some other tips on preparing for various types of disasters.
1. Stay informed. Monitor news reports for emergency information. Remember that there may be no electricity during a disaster, so a hand-crank radio is recommended.
2. Build a disaster supply kit. Your kit should include enough non-perishable food and one gallon of water per day per person, prescription medication and other supplies, such as flashlights, batteries and a first-aid kit. Learn more about disaster supply kits at ready.gov/kit.
3. Make a plan that extends from home to vehicle, workplace and other locations. Remember to have supplies at all locations, and keep vehicle fuel tanks at least half full.
4. Get involved – Prepare your community for emergencies: For more information on National Preparedness Month and getting others involved, go to: ready.gov/september or ready.gov/es/septiembre, and follow #NatlPrep.