In many areas of the U.S., regular flooding is starting to become a part of life. In fact, FEMA reports that flooding has become the most common natural disaster nationwide — and that's not likely to change.
Last year alone, California sustained $1.5 billion worth of flood damage in March, while Arkansas and Missouri underwent $1.7 billion worth the following month. This year, we’ve already seen storm-induced flooding infest parts of Florida, Texas, Louisiana, Hawaii, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana and Michigan.
“Even though the unending string of calamities felt unprecedented, we must see 2017 as an average year, if not a baseline,” advises Umair Irfan on Vox.com. “We must reckon with the likelihood of even worse storms, heat waves, fires, and droughts as the Earth warms — because scientists expect even this ‘new normal’ to get worse.”
What’s going on? Scientists say global warming is boosting water evaporation, and for each degree inched up on a Celsius thermometer, air is able to hold 7 percent more water volume. That helps explain why average U.S. rainfall has risen 5 percent since 1990, with the number of heavy rainstorms rising 10 percent over the 20th century. And that moisture-laden air is also helping drive the powerful hurricanes that lead to flooding.
Fortunately, we can do much to prepare for such natural disasters by optimizing emergency alert systems and being aware of appropriate actions to take.
Plan of Attack
If you live in a flood zone, several measures can help protect you and your family before and after the flooding occurs. For example:
- Anticipate emergency alerts and how you plan to receive them, whether through NOAA radio, TV, phone or another venue.
- Know the routes you’ll take and emergency shelters that can house you, should you need to evacuate.
- Keep emergency food, water and medical supplies on hand. The Red Cross offers a list of recommended items.
- Know how to turn off your home’s electric, gas and water systems as needed.
- Never walk or drive through floodwaters. Electrocution is a risk, depth is difficult to gauge, currents can be dangerous and the water may contain rocks, mud, debris, oil, gasoline or even sewage.
- During flooding emergencies, remember to notify friends and family that you’re safe.
- Read up on safety facts and instructions in your area. The Red Cross also offers general tips on flood preparedness.
- Encourage your municipality to invest in an emergency notification system that can reach a wide range of residents.
- Encourage your municipality to maintain an emergency phone hotline.
In flood situations, SwiftReach can broadcast emergency alerts via voice, text, email, fax, RSS and social media using its Swift911™ emergency alert system. We currently serve more than 3,000 organizations across government, enterprise, education, utilities, healthcare and more!