Pawnee Police Department

SUBJECT: Emergency Management Bulletin 
Floods and Flash Floods

Flooding has caused the deaths of more than 10,000 people since 1900. Property damage from flooding now totals over one billion dollars each year in the United States. Nearly 9 out of 10 presidential disaster declarations result from natural phenomena in which flooding was a major component.


Floods are the most common and widespread of all natural disasters except fire. Most communities in the United States can experience some kind of flooding after spring rains, heavy thunderstorms, or winter snow thaws. Floods can be slow, or fast rising but generally develop over a period of days. 

Dam failures are potentially the worst flood events. A dam failure is usually the result of neglect, poor design, or structural damage caused by a major event such as an earthquake. When a dam fails, a gigantic quantity of water is suddenly let loose downstream, destroying anything in its path.


Flash floods usually result from intense storms dropping large amounts of rain within a brief period. Flash floods occur with little or no warning and can reach full peak in only a few minutes.


Floodwaters can be extremely dangerous. The force of six inches of swiftly moving water can knock people off their feet. The best protection during a flood is to leave the area and go to shelter on higher ground. 

Flash flood waters move at very fast speeds and can roll boulders, tear out trees, destroy buildings, and obliterate bridges. Walls of water can reach heights of 10 to 20 feet and generally are accompanied by a deadly cargo of debris. The best response to any signs of flash flooding is to move immediately to higher ground. 

Cars can easily be swept away in just two (2) feet of moving water. If floodwaters rise around a car, it should be abandoned. Passengers should climb immediately to higher ground. 

Individuals and business owners can protect themselves from flood losses by purchasing flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program. Homeowners’ policies do not cover flood damage. Information is available through local insurance agents and emergency management offices.


· Listen to a battery-operated radio for the latest storm information.
· Fill bathtubs, sinks, and jugs with clean water in case water becomes contaminated.
· Bring outdoor belongings, such as patio furniture, indoors.
· Move valuable household possessions to the upper floors or to safe ground if time permits.
· If you are instructed to do so by local authorities, turn off all utilities at the main power switch and close the main gas valve.
· Be prepared to evacuate.


· Turn on a battery-operated radio or television to get the latest emergency information.
· Get your pre-assembled emergency supplies.
· If told to leave, do so immediately.
· Climb to higher ground if necessary and stay there.
· Avoid walking through any floodwaters. If it is moving swiftly, it can sweep you off your feet.
· If you drive to a flooded area, turn around and go another way.
· If your car stalls, abandon it immediately and climb to higher ground. Many deaths have resulted from attempts to move stalled vehicles.
· Follow recommended evacuation routes.
· Leave early enough to avoid being marooned by flooded roads.


· Flood dangers do not end when the water begins to recede. Listen to a radio or television and don’t return home until authorities indicate it safe to do so. 
· Remember to help your neighbors who may require special assistance-infants, elderly, wheel chaired, deaf, blind, non-English speaking.
· Inspect foundations for cracks or other damage.
· Stay out of buildings if flood waters remain around the building.
· When entering buildings, use extreme caution.
· Wear sturdy shoes and use battery powered lanterns or flashlights when examining buildings.
· Examine walls, floors, doors, and windows to make sure that the building is not in danger of collapsing.
· Watch out for animals, especially poisonous snakes, that may have come into your home with the flood waters. Use a stick to poke through debris.
· Watch for loose plaster and ceilings that could fall.
· Take pictures of the damage- both to the house and its contents for insurance claims.
· Look for fire hazards, broken or leaking gas lines, flooded electrical circuits, submerged furnaces or electrical appliances, and flammable or explosive materials coming from upstream.
· Throwaway food -including canned goods-that have come in contact with floodwaters.
· Pump out flooded basements gradually (about one third of the water per day), to avoid structural damage.
· Service septic tanks, cesspools, pits, and leaching systems as soon as possible. Damaged sewage systems are health hazards.

Home Page - Pawnee Police Department