SEVERE WEATHER PREPAREDNESS: FLOODING

PEARL – The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency and the National Weather Service are highlighting the risk of flooding and flash flooding during Severe Weather Preparedness Week. Mississippi has more than 5.2 million acres of floodplain and ranks eighth in the nation for the number of structures which have flooded more than once.

On Aug. 29, 2012, Hurricane Isaac made landfall in Mississippi, bringing 10-17 inches of rain to the southern portion of the state, and 4-9 inches to central Mississippi. This caused extensive flooding of rivers, creeks and streams, flooding many structures in the southern part of the state.

Even a small amount of moving water can be dangerous. As little as six inches of moving water can knock pedestrians off their feet. A foot of water will float moving vehicles, and two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles, including sport utility vehicles and pick-up trucks. Flash flooding is a result of sudden, heavy rainfall commonly produced from slow-moving intense thunderstorms and can occur with little warning.

Most deaths from flash flooding occur when motorists drive into flood waters of unknown depths.  The vehicle may stall out due to the high water and be swept away taking the passengers with it. A simple rule to remember is “turn around don’t drown”.

Take these steps now before a flood occurs:

  • Know your flood risk.  Most counties have maps which will tell you if you live in a floodplain.
  • Purchase flood insurance. You can obtain a National Flood Insurance Program policy through your insurance company.
  • Take photographs or videos of all your important possessions, in case you need to file a flood insurance claim.
  • Store important documents and irreplaceable personal objects where they won’t be damaged. If a major flood is expected, consider putting these items in storage facility.
  • Plan and practice a flood evacuation route with your family.
  • Buy and install a sump pump with backup power.
  • Have an electrician raise electric components such as sockets, switches and circuit breakers at least 12 inches above your home’s projected flood elevation.
  • Install backflow valves or plugs for your drains, toilets and sewer connections.
  • Anchor fuel tanks so they will not be torn free by floodwaters.

Take these steps if floodwaters are rising:

  • Fill sinks, bathtubs and jugs with clean water in case water becomes contaminated.
  • Listen to a battery-operated radio for the latest storm information.
  • Local authorities may instruct you to turn off all utilities and close your main gas valve.
  • If told to evacuate your home, do so immediately.
  • If water starts to rise inside your house before you evacuate, retreat to the second floor, attic or your roof if necessary.
  • If you come in contact with floodwater, wash your hands with soap and disinfected water. Floodwater may carry raw sewage, chemical waste and other infectious substances.
  • Avoid walking through floodwater.
  • Don’t drive through a flooded area or an area that has rising water.
  • Avoid downed power lines because electric currents pass easily through water.
  • Look out for animals, especially snakes. Animals lose their homes in floods too.

Governor Phil Bryant declared Feb. 4-8 Severe Weather Preparedness Week in Mississippi.

For more preparedness information please visit www.msema.org, contact your local emergency management office or local weather service office.

Follow updates on our website, www.msema.org, and on Facebook and Twitter using MSEMA.

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