As we follow the news around the world to keep ourselves prepared, my attention was once again brought to the flooding in Australia. The most recent happening is the tsunami-like flash flood in the city of Toowoomba. After a torrential down pour where six inches fell in half an hour, a flash flood surged through the streets, jumping six to ten feet in the air. Thankfully, nowhere downstream is expected to be hit as hard as Toowoomba. Twenty people are reported dead and more than 200,000 people have been affected, including the small town of Forest Hill, where all 300 people had to be evacuated by helicopter.
Though we all may not live close to an ocean as the people of Toowoomba, this does strike close to home to me. In Tennessee, the Cumberland River flooded where people I knew were without power for 3 days. Several historical buildings were damaged including the Opry Land Hotel.
So what can we do so we aren't sitting on our roofs waiting for the flood waters to recede or having to load quickly into a helicopter and head for safety? Here are a few suggestions.
First, Listen. If there are heavy rains, listen to the news and keep updated on conditions. Also, know the terminology newscasters use for severe weather:
• Watch – means that conditions are right for a flood
• Warning – means that one has been sighted and to take action
• Advisory – means a flood is in progress and to take immediate action
Second, do not travel through flood waters. It can be hard to tell how deep the water is - whether by foot or in a car. It could have been only a foot deep yesterday, but the ground may have been washed away. Again, it’s better to play it safe. When walking through even six inches of rushing water, the current can be strong enough to knock you off your feet.
Third, do not drink the water. Flood water can contain harmful bacteria or sewage. Also, don't eat anything that has come in contact with flood water without proper treatment.
Fourth, and most important, be prepared so you do not panic. Have an emergency kit available so that if you have to leave quickly, you are prepared. It’s always better to have something and not need it, than need it and not have it.
Click here to read another blog post with some additional information about flood preparedness.