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 Floods  

 

SPOTLIGHT


Floods are the most common and widespread of all natural disasters – except fire. Most communities in the United States can experience some kind of flooding after spring rains, heavy thunderstorms, or winter snow thaws. Floods can be slow rising (developing over several days) or fast rising (occurring in several minutes) depending on the situation and causes.

Flash floods usually result from intense storms dropping large amounts of rain within a brief period of time. They can occur with little or no warning and can reach full peak in only a few minutes. Almost three-quarters of the approximately 92 deaths per year from floods are due to flash floods (Source – Federal Emergency Management Agency).

Flood waters are powerful enough to roll boulders, tear out trees, and demolish houses. Even six inches of moving flood water can knock you off your feet, and at a depth of two feet will float a car downstream. Nearly half of all floods fatalities are auto related. (Source - U.S. Navy)

Terms as defined by the American Red Cross:
FLOOD WATCH OR FLASH FLOOD WATCH
Flooding is possible within the designated area – be alert and ready to evacuate if so informed.
FLOOD WARNING OR FLASH FLOOD WARNING
Flooding is occurring, or is imminent, in the designated area. Take necessary precautions at once. Depending on how close you are to the designated area you should act quickly. You may only have as little as a few seconds.
URBAN AND SMALL STREAM FLOODING
Flooding of small streams, streets, and low lying areas, such as railroad underpasses and urban storm drains is occurring in the designated area. You should act quickly and move out of the designated area to higher ground.

IF FLOODING OCCURS, OR THE CONDITIONS EXIST THAT COULD CAUSE FLOODING TO OCCUR, OBSERVE THE FOLLOWING:
1. Listen to the radio or watch television weather broadcasts to keep appraised of weather watches or warnings.
2. Listen to National Weather Service/National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) radio broadcasts if a weather radio is available. Pittsburgh NOAA weather can be found at 162.500 MHz.
3. Go online to track the storm and be aware of weather alerts/warnings at http://www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr
4. If a flood watch or warning occurs for the area you are in, move to higher ground immediately. Do not delay if a warning is posted.
5. If you are in a campus building that begins to flood notify University Police immediately at:

Campus phone:  ext. 3333
Public phone:  724-738-3333

Then leave the building for a facility that is not flooding.
6. When traveling DO NOT drive through flooded roadways. Remember a relatively small amount of running water can sweep your car downstream. The depth of the water is not always obvious.
7. If a vehicle stalls in water, leave the vehicle immediately and move to higher ground.
8. Be extra cautious when driving at night, for it is more difficult to recognize flood signs, or the depth of water.
9. During heavy rains or flood alerts, etc., do not park a vehicle near any streams, rivers or flash flood areas.
10. If caught outdoors, climb to higher ground and stay there.
11. DO NOT walk through or drink flood water. Flood water may contain fecal matter from sewage, industrial chemicals, agricultural by-products and the like. If you must come into contact with flood water wash with soap and clean water as soon as possible after contact.
12. If told to evacuate, do so immediately.

AFTER THE FLOOD
1. Do not walk near flooded areas, buildings, etc., unseen dangers such as electrical lines may be present.
2. Be aware of abnormal animal activity, especially poisonous snakes that may have come into the area. Animals can be disoriented, displaced and/or carry rabies.
3. If walking into a building that has water damage be aware of loose plaster on ceilings, unstable door jams and floors, or walls that can cave in.
4. Be aware of broken or leaking gas lines, electrical lines, flammable materials, and explosive materials that have come from another area upstream.
5. Do not eat food, including canned goods that have come in contact with flood waters.
6. Be aware of cracked or damaged building foundations prior to entering any building.
7. Notify University Police of any hazardous situation you observe at:

Campus phone:  ext. 3333
Public phone:  724-738-3333