Throughout history, floods have taken a heavy toll on lives and property. With the El Nino weather pattern drenching much of Texas for the past year, the state’s Flood Awareness Week, May 23-27, offers a reminder of the threat that high waters pose.
When it comes to safety, one of the best things those living in flood-prone areas can do is to be aware of potential dangers and to take precautions. The National Weather Service issues regular reports that are televised, broadcast via radio and also publicized on the Internet, and knowledge is a very power tool in staying safe.
Within the Brazos River basin, the BRA provides links to USGS Gaging Stations that show gage height and streamflow readings throughout the Brazos River basin here.
And the National Weather Service’s Hydrologic Prediction Service offers information on expected conditions for the Brazos, Bosque, San Gabriel, Navasota, Leon and Lampasas rivers which can be viewed here. Simply click on the region you are interested in, select the points along the river that are closest to you and select the information you want to know.
Before a flood threatens, it’s a good idea to make an emergency plan in advance. These plans include:
- Knowing your risk. Floodsmart.gov offers information that could help you determine if you are in a flood prone area.
- Make an emergency communication plan for your family.
- Build or restock an emergency kit, with items such as a flashlight, batteries, cash and first aid supplies.
- If you’re in a flood prone area, purchase flood insurance.
- Familiarize yourself with local emergency plans. Know where to go and how to get there should you need to get to higher ground, the highest level of a building, or to evacuate.
So, what should you do if flood conditions threaten?
During a flood watch:
- Be aware that conditions are right for flooding to occur.
- Turn to your TV, radio or the Internet for weather updates for your area and listen for any emergency instructions.
- Know where you can go for safety if flooding occurs.
- If you have enough time, bring outdoor furniture inside and put important indoor items at the highest elevation possible to help protect them from damage.
- Disconnect electrical appliances and do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water. You could be electrocuted.
- If you are instructed to do so by authorities, turn off your gas or electricity at the main switch or valve. This can help prevent fires or explosions
During a flood warning:
- Immediately move to the highest ground safely possible, if you are not there already.
- Evacuate if directed.
What about if you’re out and about when flooding begins?
- Most importantly: Turn Around, Don’t Drown. It may sound overly simple, and has been repeated so often the phrase can sometimes be dismissed as cliché. But it’s vital information you would be wise to take to heart. Driving or attempting to walk through flood waters is dangerous. Just 6 inches of moving water can knock a person down, and 2 feet of water can sweep your vehicle away.
- If there is a chance of flash floods, immediately move to higher ground. The ready.gov website notes that flash floods are the No. 1 cause of weather-related deaths.
- If you find your car surrounded by high water, abandon the car and seek high ground if the water is still. Stay on top of your car and await rescue.
- Do not park or camp along streams, rivers or creeks during times of heavy rainfall. These areas can flood rapidly.
Flooding is unfortunately a part of life, as those who live near rivers know all too well. However, diligence and planning can help make the best out a difficult situation.