Wednesday, May 11, 2011

It's a Matter of Flood Preparedness

Photo Courtesy of National Geographic

It doesn't seem that long ago, but I remember when I was living in South Provo when significant flooding occurred. I recalled being excused from Sacrament Meeting to go and help sandbag around the Provo Temple to protect it.  As it turned out, the street that I lived on was sandbagged and became a river for several weeks.  I remember watching people fishing on my street while I was doing my dishes.  The freeway was flooded and it was difficulty to travel south on I-15.

Fast forward several years, and it appears that Utah is facing another season of flooding.  However, many safeguards have been put into place since the flooding I referred to above.  There are many holding ponds, pumps, etc that have been put into place to avoid another signficant season of flooding.  However, despite all the planning, there is still a significant risk of flooding this year.  So, what should you do to prepare.  Here is information that was compiled by Tim H.  He graciously presented this information and more last evening at our Relief Society Weekday Meeting. My thanks to him and the other presenters who provided us with such great information about preparedness.  It was a spectacular evening.

In particular, I was surprised to learn that the Tibble Fork was listed as one of the top 50 dams in Utah that was a high risk structure for failure. That means that the water could come down American Fork Canyon at a fast and furious rate.  In addition, it was eye opening to learn that Lake Bonneville peaked at 5,100 feet.  In our neighborhood here in Highland, the elevation is 5,000 feet above sea level.  That means that this area has been underwater at one time...and the potential to have a great deal of water here really does exist.  There are several neighborhoods in our Stake that could be at a high risk for flooding this year....and we haven't even had a great snow melt.  According to the information shared last evening, the peak waterflow/snowmelt was projected to be the 2nd week of May of this year...which is now.  However, we have had a relatively cool spring so far, so the potential still exists for a fast snow melt with a significant increasing in the possibility for flooding. 

What to do before a flood:

• Know how to monitor the hazard. Stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio or commercial radio or television for updates and evacuation information.

• Know what flood risks exist related to your location by visiting or contacting your local authorities.

• Consider purchasing flood insurance: Homeowners policies don't cover floods. You need a separate policy just for floods.

• Prepare a plan for your household:

• Be prepared to evacuate. Plan a safe retreat and for a place to meet in case you are separated.

• Choose an out-of-town contact to for everyone to call to let them know where you are.

• Get to know your neighbors and discuss how you can help each other.

• Plan how to take care of pets. Emergency shelters may not allow pets.

• Prepare 72-hour emergency kits for each family member. Kits should include water, food, flashlight, Battery powered or hand crank radio, first aid kit, medications and medical items, multi-purpose tool, sanitation and personal hygiene items, copies of personal documents, cell phone with chargers, extra cash, emergency blanket, extra clothing and sturdy shoes.

What to do during a flood:

• Be aware of streams, drainage channels, canyons and other areas known to flood suddenly. Flash floods can occur in these areas with or without such typical warning signs as rain clouds or heavy rain.

• If local authorities issue a flood warning, prepare to evacuate:

• Secure your home. If you have time, tie down or bring outdoor equipment and lawn furniture inside. Move essential items to upper floors.

• If instructed, turn off utilities at the main switches or valves. Disconnect electrical appliances (Do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water).

• Fill the bathtub with water in case water becomes contaminated or unavailable.

• Do not walk through moving water. Six inches of moving water can knock you off of your feet. If you must walk in a flooded area, walk where the water is not moving. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.

• Do not drive into flooded areas. Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars causing loss of control and possible stalling. Two feet of water will wash away almost all vehicles. If floodwaters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground, if you can do so safely.

What to do after a flood:

• Avoid floodwaters and moving water. The water may be contaminated by oil, gasoline or raw sewage. The water may also be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.

• Stay away from downed power lines and report them to the power company.

• Stay away from designated disaster areas unless authorities ask for volunteers.

• Return home only when authorities indicate it is safe. Stay out of buildings if surrounded by floodwaters.

• Consider your families health and safety needs:

• Wash hands frequently with soap and water if you come in contact with floodwaters.

• Throw away food that has come in contact with floodwaters.

• Listen for news reports to learn if the water supply is safe to drink.

• Listen to news reports for information about assistance for housing, food and clothes.

• Seek necessary medical care at the nearest medical facility.

• Contact your insurance agent.

• Take photos or videos of the damage.

• Separate damaged and undamaged items.

• Locate your financial records.

• Keep detailed records of cleanup costs.

It appears that the Little Red Hen has some issues to that true for you? 

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