Flooding can occur within all 50 U.S. states, and all around the world. They are among the most common and widespread of all natural hazards, and more importantly, they’re the #1 weather-related killer.

Communities at risk are those located in low-lying areas (also known as flood plains), near water, or downstream from a dam.

What Are Floods & Flash Floods?

A flood—also known as a river flood—is a high flow or overflows of water from a river or similar body of water, occurring over a period of time. Floods can occur for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Melting snow
  • Torrential rains
  • Repeated heavy rains
  • Strong onshore winds

A flash flood is a sudden overflow of water that sends a river, stream, or other body of water rapidly out of its banks. Flash floods occur in a short amount of time, generally less than 2 hours. Flash floods are typically caused by:

  • Sudden, excessive rainfall
  • Ice jams on rivers during snow thaw
  • Dam breaks
  • Torrential rains

Safety & Preparedness Tips

Don’t underestimate the power of a flood—fast-moving water is extremely powerful. The results can be deadly to anyone in the water’s path, so find your way to higher ground as soon as possible.

Anticipating a flood is possible, especially if you are aware of your location in a flood plain or similar high-risk area. Look out for flooding indicators:

  • Unusually hard rain over several hours
  • Steady substantial rain over several days
  • Rapidly rising water in streams & rivers
  • It is also important to listen to any flood warnings that are issued by the local news. A flood watch means that high flow or overflow is possible in the given time period. A flood warning means flooding conditions are actually occurring or are imminent.

    Be Prepared!

    Check the incidence of flooding in your area by contacting an expert source. Contact your homeowners insurance agent and discuss your options for flood protection insurance.

    Develop a Family Preparedness Plan and Family Emergency Supplies Kit.

    Sand bags can be effective, but you also must be realistic about the use of sand bags. It generally takes one person 1 hour to fill and place 50 bags, but it takes as many as 1,000 sand bags to create a wall 3 feet high and 20 feet long.