Flooding can happen anywhere in the U.S., but here in Maui, we are definitely susceptible due to our very close proximity to the ocean and our abundance of water on the island. Just in March, torrential rain caused severe floods that stranded motorists and pedestrians on South Kihei Road.
Flooding is the most common natural disaster in the U.S. and can be caused by a number of factors, including:
- Tropical storms
- Waves caused by hurricanes
- River flooding
- Sudden downpours
- Dam breakage
What is a flood?
Floods aren’t just what you imagine them to be – raging rivers that ravage towns. Did you know that it only takes six inches of moving flood water to knock you down and only two feet of water to carry your vehicle away? If water is invading the spot where you are, it is best to evacuate as soon as possible before it gets to the point where that is impossible.
The costs of floods
Floods cause major havoc, both in terms of property damage and in deaths. Not only are they the most-common natural disaster, they are also the deadliest and the U.S. sees an average of 82 deaths a year directly caused by flooding. Each year, there is also approximately $8 billion in damage reported because of flood waters. Unfortunately, your home insurance does not typically cover flood damage and you need to purchase separate flood insurance if you feel your home is susceptible to flooding danger.
Not just during the flood, but afterward, floods can cause damage and health issues. Because flood water can contain sewage, microorganisms, plus debris, it is very dangerous to be in flood water. Once the water recedes, the debris and contaminants will be left on the surfaces it has touched, causing issues with mould and other harmful problems.
How to be prepared for a flood
Start by downloading FEMA’s flood preparedness disaster supply kit. It gives you a good overview of what supplies you need to have in-hand in the case of an emergency, like a flood. Items like water, non-perishable food, seasonal clothing, cash and a flashlight are all going to be very important in this time of crisis. Don’t forget supplies for your pets either, like a carrying case for smaller pets and a leash for larger pets.
If a flood is imminent, start by moving items in your home up higher, especially electrical items or toxic substances. Turn on your radio or TV to hear the latest on emergency instructions and have a plan for where you’ll go if you need to evacuate. Be prepared to turn off your gas and electricity.
If a flood occurs, avoid walking in the flood water and try to evacuate if it is safe to do so. Move to higher ground is going to be your best course of action. Before any flooding occurs, you should know your safe spots to evacuate to and let your kids know where to go to. Designate a spot on higher ground where you can meet and be out of the reach of flood waters.