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Flood

A flood can develop slowly, over a period of several days, or within minutes, which happens during flash floods.

It is important to know the difference between a WATCH and a WARNING. A flash flood WATCH means current or developing conditions are possible for flash flooding in and close to the watch area, but the occurrence is neither certain or imminent. A flash flood WARNING means flash flooding is in progress, imminent or highly likely.

 

Before

Use the following tips to prepare your home, family, and pets before a flood:

  • Stay Informed through local radio, television or official social media accounts. Download the free HSEMA app or AlertDC to receive updates wherever you are.
  • Build or re-stock your Emergency Kit.
  • Make a Family Emergency Plan. Your family members may not all be in one place when a flood strikes. It is important to know how you will contact one another, how and where you will meet and what you will do in case of an emergency. Plan how to communicate if you lose power.
  • Charge your cell phone so you have a full battery. Consider buying a solar or battery powered phone charger.
  • Consider elevating the furnace, water heater and electric panel if you live in a high flood risk area. Find out about your flood risk.
  • Consider installing "check valves" to prevent flood water from backing up into the drains of your home.

In the hours before the flood:

  • Bring in outdoor furniture and move important indoor items to the highest possible floor.
  • Be aware of creeks and other low-lying areas around your neighborhood prone to sudden flooding.
  • If needed, place sandbags in front of your exteriors doors to prevent water from entering your home.
  • If instructed, turn off your gas and electricity at the main switch or valve. This helps prevent fires and explosions.
  • Store drinking water in various containers and clean bathtubs as water service may be interrupted.
  • Be prepared to evacuate if necessary. Be familiar with your evacuation routes around your neighborhood.
  • Fill up your car with gas. If electric power is cut off, gas stations may not be able to operate pumps for several days.
  • Please refer to the District Department of Energy & Environment guidance for flooding/flood zone information.

During

  • Stay Informed through local radio, television or official social media accounts. Download the free HSEMA app or AlertDC to receive updates wherever you are.
  • Move to a safe area before access is cut off by floodwater. You may need to reach higher ground quickly and on foot.
  • Do not camp or park your vehicle along streams, rivers or creeks.
  • Do not attempt to drive over a flooded road! You could be trapped or stranded. The depth of the water is not always obvious and the road could be washed away.
  • Do not walk through moving water. Just six inches of moving water can knock you down.
  • If floodwaters rise around your car but the water is not moving, abandon the car and move to higher ground.
  • Do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water, you could be electrocuted.
  • Please refer to the District Department of Energy & Environment guidance for flooding/flood zone information.

After

  • Stay Informed through local radio, television or official social media accounts. Download the free HSEMA app or AlertDC to receive updates wherever you are.
  • Return home only when authorities say it is safe to do so.
  • If you cannot return home and need shelter, follow the official information regarding shelters given to you by the District Government.
  • Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded and watch out for debris. Floodwaters often erode roads and walkways.
  • Stay alert for extra rainfall and flooding after the storm has ended.
  • Communicate with family members and friends.
  • If you have a cell phone, call, text, email or use social media.
  • If you have access to a computer, use an online registry such as the Red Cross website, “Safe and Well”.
  • If you do not have a cell phone, use social media apps on personal gaming or tablet devices.
  • If you do not have access to technology, go to your pre-designated meeting place for you to reconnect with family members or consider relaying information through friends, family or even your workplace.
  • Check on your neighbors. Help people who may require special assistance, such as infants, children, the elderly, or people with disabilities or access and functional needs.
  • Avoid walking or driving through flood waters. Just six inches of moving water can knock you down, and fast-moving water can sweep your vehicle away.
  • Avoid standing flood water as it may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines and may hide dangerous debris or places where the ground is washed away.
  • Assess damage to your home. Photograph the damage and contact your insurance company to file a claim.
  • Fix broken septic tanks, cesspools, pits and leaching systems as soon as you can. Damaged sewer systems are serious health problems.
  • Follow official information given to you by the District Government to determine if tap water is safe to drink.
  • Clean everything that got wet. Mud left from floodwaters can contain sewage and chemicals.
  • Make sure you hire trained clean-up or repair contractors.
  • Please refer to the District Department of Energy & Environment guidance for flooding/flood zone information.

Additional Resources

fema.gov/national-flood-insurance-program
redcross.org/get-help/prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/flood
floodsafety.noaa.gov/states/dc-flood.shtml
floodsafety.noaa.gov/