Understanding a Flood:
Flooding is a coast-to-coast threat to some parts of the United States and its territories nearly every day of the year. This site is designed to teach you how to stay safe in a flood event. If you know what to do before, during, and after a flood you can increase your chances of survival and better protect your property. For instance, it is vital to know what to do if you are driving and hit a flooded road.
Flood Watch vs. Warning:
Flood Watch: Be Prepared! (Dark Green)A Flood Watch is issued when conditions are favorable for flooding. It does not mean flooding will occur, but it is possible.
Flash Flood Warning: Take Action! (Red)A Flash Flood Warning is issued when a flash flood is imminent or occurring. If you are in a flood-prone area move immediately to high ground. A flash flood is a sudden violent flood that can take from minutes to hours to develop. It is even possible to experience a flash flood in areas not immediately receiving rain.
Flood Warning: Take Action! (Light Green)A Flood Warning is issued when the hazardous weather event is imminent or already happening. A Flood Warning is issued when flooding is imminent or occurring.
Flood Advisory: Be Aware: (Light Green)A Flood Advisory is issued when a specific weather event that is forecast to occur may become a nuisance. A Flood Advisory is issued when flooding is not expected to be bad enough to issue a warning. However, it may cause significant inconvenience, and if caution is not exercised, it could lead to situations that may threaten life and/or property.
Actions for Flooding
Before a Flood:
Find out what you can do before flooding strikes. Preparation is key to staying safe and minimizing impacts.
- Be Weather-Ready: Check the forecast regularly to see if you're at risk for flooding. Listen to local news or check the Norman National Weather Service webpage to stay informed about flood watches and warnings.
- Sign up for WichitaFalls CodeRED: The number one way to receive an emergency alert from Wichita Falls OEM and NWS is through a CodeRED message. Visit Emergency Alerts for more information on how to sign up and keep your information up to date.
- Know Your Risks: Is your home, business or school in a floodplain? Where is water likely to collect on the roadways you most often travel? What is the fastest way to get to higher ground? Knowing the answers to these questions ahead of time can save your life.
- Build or Re-Stock Your Kit: Have critical items to help you survive before help arrives. During large-scale disasters, help could be delayed.
- Create a Communications Plan: Have a family plan that includes an emergency meeting place and related information.
- Prepare Your Home:
- If you have access to sandbags or other materials, use them to protect your home from floodwaters if you have sufficient time to do so. Filling sandbags can take more time than you may think.
- Have a professional install check-valves in plumbing to prevent floodwaters from backing up into the drains of your home. Make sure your sump pump is working and consider having a backup. Make sure your electric circuit breakers, or fuses, are clearly marked for each area of your home.
- Since standard homeowners insurance doesn't cover flooding, ensure coverage by contacting your insurance company or agent to purchase flood insurance. This must be done before there is even a threat of flooding as insurance companies stop issuing policies if there is a threat of flooding. (i.e. an approaching hurricane). Many flood insurance policies take at least 30 days to go into effect so even if you can buy it as a storm is approaching, it may not protect your investment.
During a Flood:
During a flood, water levels and the rate the water is flowing can quickly change. Remain aware and monitor local radio and television outlets. Avoid floodwaters at all costs and evacuate immediately when water starts to rise. Don't wait until it's too late!
- Stay Informed: Listen to radio and television, including NOAA Weather Radio if possible, check the Internet and social media for information and updates.
- Get to Higher Ground: If you live in a flood-prone area or are camping in a low-lying area, get to higher ground immediately.
- Obey Evacuation Orders: If told to evacuate, do so immediately. Lock your home when you leave. If you have time, disconnect utilities and appliances.
- Practice Electrical Safety: Don't go into a basement, or any room, if water covers the electrical outlets or if cords are submerged. If you see sparks or hear buzzing, crackling, snapping, or popping noises--get out! Stay out of water that may have electricity in it!
- Avoid Flood Waters: Don't walk through floodwaters. It only takes 6 inches of moving water to knock you off your feet. If you are trapped by moving water, move to the highest possible point and call 911 if possible. Do NOT drive into flooded roadways or around a barricade; Turn Around, Don't Drown! Water may be deeper than it appears and can hide hazards such as sharp objects, washed-out road surfaces, electrical wires, chemicals, etc. A vehicle caught in swiftly moving water can be swept away in seconds. 12 inches of water can float a car or small SUV, 18 inches of water can carry away large vehicles.
Turn Around, Don't Drown!
After a Flood:
When floodwaters recede, the damage left behind can be devastating and present many dangers. Images of flood destruction depict destroyed homes and buildings, damaged possessions, and decimated roadways. However, what you can't see can be just as dangerous. Floodwaters often become contaminated with sewage or chemicals. Gas leaks and live power lines can be deadly but are not obvious at first glance.
- Stay Informed: Stay tuned to your local news for updated information on road conditions. Ensure water is safe to drink, cook or clean with after a flood. Authorities may ask you to boil water for a while after a flood. Utility companies often have apps to update you on getting service back. Carbon monoxide poisoning is one of the leading causes of death after storms when areas are dealing with power outages. Never use a portable generator inside your home or garage. Review generator safety.
- Avoid Flood Waters: Standing water hides many dangers including toxins and chemicals. There may be sharp objects under the water or the road could have collapsed. If it is likely your home will flood, don't wait for an evacuation order, get out! Talk to friends and family about emergency visits. If you have pets, take them with you or get them somewhere safe.
- Avoid Disaster Areas: Do not visit disaster areas. Your presence may hamper rescue and other emergency operations.
- Heed Road Closed and Cautionary Signs: Road closure and other cautionary signs are put in place for your safety. Pay attention to them!
- Wait for the All Clear: Do not enter a flood-damaged home or building until you're given the All Clear by authorities. If you enter a flood-damaged building, be extremely careful. Water can cause floors to collapse, ceilings to fall, etc. Make sure the electrical system has been turned off. Have the power company or a qualified electrician fix wires. Contact your insurance agent to discuss property damage. If you have a generator, follow proper safety procedures.
- Contact Your Family and Loved Ones: Let your family and close friends know that you’re okay so they can help spread the word. Register with or search the American Red Cross’s Safe and Well listing.
- Assess the Damage: After you are sure the flooding threat has ended, check your property for damages. When walking through storm damage, wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and sturdy shoes. Contact local authorities if you see power lines down. Stay out of damaged buildings. Be aware of insurance scammers if your property has been damaged.
- If you have storm damage visit, TDEM's Damage Survey forms.