Floods occur in varying degrees of severity throughout the world every year, some floods are even critical to the natural cycle of a given areas. A large enough flood in the wrong area, however, can be devastating.
All regions of the populated world can be subject to flooding, which is water rising above the normal water table. Even the driest areas can suffer from a flash flood. Built up urban areas are also prone to flooding as rain or run-off is blocked from being absorbed by the ground due to being covered over by buildings and pavement. Also leaf debris can cause localized flooding when it blocks storm drains.
Flooding is a threat to life due to the risk of drowning, being injured by debris in fast moving water or from illnesses in the contaminated water. Flooding also causes property damage due to erosion, mudslides, undermining of building foundations, contamination of buildings and contents, rotting of building materials and mold.
In areas protected from rivers and lakes by dikes and levies flooding can be even more devastating when these flood control measures fail. As shown by the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina (2005) in New Orleans when levies fail water can quickly flood an area trapping people in their own homes.
Preparing for a Flood
Floods are likely to create one of two challenges for you, supply loss or they will claim your property. In the event of supply loss you need only to have plenty of food and potable water on hand. If your property is flooded you will need to be able to escape.
Another important consideration is flood insurance. Typical home insurance does not cover floods so you need to evaluate your risk and determine if you need to get additional flood insurance for your property. As with all insurance planning, consider storing a full inventory of personal property off site in case of total home loss. Even if standing water can not reach your house, it can back up the sewer system and still flood lower parts of your home. If this occurs in your neighborhood, or you happen to live at a low point in your neighborhood, you may be susceptible to this hazard. If you have a basement and your neighborhood is prone to sewer backups, make sure to store perishables and valuables a few inches off of the floor and in water-tight containers.
Prepare to Not Be Flooded
While there is not much you can do about a flood occurring, you do have some control over where you will be living if one does hit. Whenever possible, you should always choose a home that is built on high-ground. Water will seek low lying areas leaving many buildings on high-ground untouched.
The importance of food as part of preparation for any disaster can't be overstated. In the event of a flood, you will likely be unable to acquire food from stores.
Water should also be given consideration during a flood. Most floods, such as the flood of 93, will not be made up of vast quantities of drinkable water, but rather will be contaminated by overrunning sewage treatment facilities, fertilizer storage, and other contaminants. For this reason you should have clean water stored, be prepared with water purification equipment, and also be prepared to collect rain water.
Be Able to Escape
If you live in a low lying area, your home will likely be claimed by the flood. If this is the case then you should be prepared to escape a sudden flood, such as those caused by levies breaking. Just about the only way to do this safely is with a boat or raft. Simple fishing boats and inflatable rafts can be purchased at relatively low cost, especially if they are used equipment.
Know the safest passages to reach high ground from your house. Do not attempt to drive or walk through flood waters, especially moving water- it takes less than two feet of moving water to carry your vehicle downstream and place you in a life-threatening situation (half of all flash flood related deaths involve vehicles). Flood waters are often contaminated by sewage and other wastes, and may obscure dangerous conditions (an open manhole, sharp objects, downed power lines, etc), which makes foot travel dangerous. If access to a safe escape is cut off, take your bug out bag, move to the highest available ground and await rescue.
These are some floods that have happened in recent history.