The local National Weather Service Offices, along
with Regional Weather Service River Forecast Centers, issue FLOOD
FORECASTS AND WARNINGS when rainfall is enough to cause rivers to
overflow their banks or when melting snow combines with rainfall to
Flood Warnings are forecasts of impending
floods and are given to you by radio, television, and local government
through the Office of Emergency Management and by the National Weather
Service. The warning message tells the expected severity of flooding
(minor, moderate or major), the affected river or stream, and when and
where the flooding will begin. Careful preparation and prompt response
will assure personal safety and reduce property loss.
Before the Flood...
When Moving to a New Area, check with the
local flood plain manager to see if you are in an area susceptible to)
* Keep a stock of food which requires little
cooking and no refrigeration. Regular gas and electric service may be
* Keep a portable radio, batteries, emergency
cooking equipment, and flashlights in working order with additional
* Keep first aid supplies and any medicines needed
by members of your family on hand.
* Keep your automobile fueled. If electric power is
cut off, gasoline stations may not be able to operate pumps for several
* If you live in an area subject to flooding, keep
materials like sandbags, plywood, plastic sheeting, and lumber handy for
emergency levee construction.
* Store drinking water in closed, clean containers.
Water service may be interrupted.
* If flooding is likely and time permits, move
essential items and furniture to upper floors of your house. Disconnect
any electrical appliances that can't be moved - but don't touch them if
you are wet or standing in water.
If you are warned to evacuate your home and move to
another location temporarily, there are certain things to remember to
do. Here are the most important ones:
Follow the Instructions and Advice of Your Local
Government. If you are told to evacuate, do so promptly. If you are
instructed to go to a certain location, go there DON'T go
anywhere else. If certain travel routes are specified or recommended,
use those routes rather than trying to find short cuts of your own.
If you are advised to shut off your water, gas, or
electric service before leaving home, do so. Also, find out on the radio
where emergency housing and mass feeding stations are located, in case
you need to use them.
Secure Your Home Before Leaving. If you have
time and you have not received other instructions from your local
government, you should take the following actions before leaving your
* Bring outside possessions inside or tie them down
securely. This includes outdoor furniture, garbage cans, garden tools,
signs, and other movable objects that might be blown or washed away.
* Lock house doors and windows. Park your car in
the garage or driveway, close the windows and lock it (unless you are
driving to your new temporary location),
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After the Flood...
* Do not use fresh food that has come into contact
with flood waters.
* Drink only water that has not been contaminated.
* Do not visit the disaster area. Your presence
will only hamper rescue and other emergency operations.
* Do not handle live electrical equipment in wet
areas. Electrical equipment should be checked and dried before use.
* Use battery-powered lanterns or flashlights, not
oil or gas lanterns or torches to examine buildings. Flammable materials
may be present.
* Report broken utility lines to the utility
company or 911 dispatch center.
* Keep tuned to your radio or television station
for advice and instructions from local government on where to obtain
medical care, where to get assistance for such necessities as housing,
clothing, and food, and how to help yourself and the community to
Special Advice on Flash Floods
In many areas, unusually heavy rains or dam failure
may cause quick or "flash" floods. Small creeks, gullies, dry stream
beds, ravines, culverts, or even low-lying ground frequently flood
quickly and endanger people. sometimes before any warning can be given.
Examples: Rapid City, 1972; Big Thompson Canyon, 1976, Fort Collins,
1997; Manitou Springs and La Junta, 1999. Dam Failure: Lawn Lake Dam
(Estes Park), 1982.
National Weather Service offices issue three types
of flash flood products: a Flash Flood Watch, Flash Flood Warnings,
and a Small Stream and Urban Flood Advisory.
A Flash Flood Watch means that heavy rains
occurring or expected to occur may soon cause flash flooding in certain
areas. Citizens should be alert to the possibility of a flood emergency,
which will require immediate action.
A Flash Flood Warning means that flash
flooding is occurring or imminent on certain streams or designated
areas. Those in the warning area should respond immediately.
A Small Stream and Urban Flood Advisory is
issued when minor flooding is occurring or expected. In periods of heavy
rains, be aware of the hazard of flash floods and be prepared to protect
yourself against them. If you see any possibility of a flash flood
occurring where you are, move immediately to a safer location (don't
wait for instructions to move). Notify your local authorities of the
danger so other people can be warned, especially during periods of heavy
rainfall or thunderstorms. For additional information, contact your
local Emergency Management Office.
During Periods of Heavy Rainfall or Thunderstorms...
* Stay Away from Natural Stream Beds,
gullies, and other drainage channels during and after rainstorms. Water
runs off the higher elevations very rapidly, causing the natural
drainage system to overflow with rushing flood waters and their cargo of
rocks, mud, trees and other debris.
* Campers Note: Use your map. Know where you
are, and whether you are on low ground, or below a dam. Remember that
you don't have to be at the bottom of a hill to be a target for the
dangers of flash flooding.
* Know Where the High Ground is and how to
get there in a hurry. Remember, many roads and trails parallel existing
drainage patterns, and may be swept away by flood waters.
* Never Attempt to Outrun a Flood in Your
Vehicle. Abandon the vehicle and climb to safety. If you are in a
canyon, attempt to reach high ground by climbing directly up the canyon
* Abandon Stalled Vehicles in Flooded Areas
if you can do so safely. Flood waters may rise and sweep the vehicle and
occupants away. Many deaths have resulted from attempts to either outrun
a flood or to move a stalled vehicle.
* Never Try to Drive Through Flooded Areas.
Remember that it only takes 18 to 24 inches of moving water to move an
auto. If an area is flooded, take an alternate route to reach your
destination. The depth of the flood waters will be unknown, the road may
be undermined and a current may exist which could sweep your vehicle
away. Many deaths have occurred by people trying to drive through