What kinds of floods exist? Why do they happen, and where? Here’s a quick primer on what you need to know and what to keep an eye on.
1. There are two main types of floods.
A “flash flood” is characterized by how quickly it occurs, usually the result of a bad storm or a broken dam. These are more common in dry areas that have recently experienced rain. What we simply call a “flood” is very often the outcome of a local body of water overflowing, whether by rain or storm or broken dam. This type is much more likely in regions near large lakes, rivers, the ocean, or other basins. Illinois — for example — has been recently severely hurt by the rising Des Plaines River. River floods are, in fact, the most common kind to hit anywhere in the U.S.
2. Always keep up with your local weather forecasts.
Often, floods are predictable. Have you ever received an emergency alert, a “Flash Flood Warning,” on your smartphone? That means it’s time to plan to stay in for the night, stock up on some extra food and emergency supplies if you’re not already, and plan your schedule in order to keep yourself and loved ones safe.
3. All fifty of the United States are at risk of flooding.
Now, some are more likely based on geography, but it’s important to know what kinds of flooding are possible. Low-lying locations are at the greatest risk. States like California, Georgia, Louisiana, Virginia, and the rest of the East Coast are generally ranked among the most vulnerable. Still, flooding can happen even in the desert.
4. Do your research on just what’s covered.
Do you live in a particularly flood-prone area? Homeowners’ insurance very rarely covers flooding, because it does impact different areas at such varying levels. FEMA’s Floodsmart website is especially helpful in gauging your own risk and personal responsibilities to your home or business.
5. Use your best judgment.
Flooding water can move incredibly quickly — fast enough to destroy infrastructure and move cars, large trees, and of course it can even move you. It is also possibly infected with bacteria and might carry dangerous debris. Stay dry, in a secure and stable location, and keep careful track of your property.