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Public Works-Floodplain Management
Flood Safety  

Before the Flood...

  • When Moving to a New Area, check with the local floodplain manager to see if you are in an area susceptible to flooding.
  • Keep a stock of food which requires little cooking and no refrigeration. Regular gas and electric service may be disrupted.
  • Keep a portable radio, batteries, emergency cooking equipment, and flashlights in working order with additional batteries.
  • Keep first aid supplies and any medicines needed by members of your family on hand.
  • Keep your automobile fueled. If electric power is cut off, gasoline stations may not be able to operate pumps for several days.
  • If you live in an area subject to flooding, keep materials like sandbags, plywood, plastic sheeting, and lumber handy for emergency levee construction.
  • Store drinking water in closed, clean containers. Water service may be interrupted.
  • If flooding is likely and time permits, move essential items and furniture to upper floors of your house. Disconnect any electrical appliances that can't be moved - but don't touch them if you are wet or standing in water.


If you are warned to evacuate your home and move to another location temporarily, there are certain things to remember to do. Here are the most important ones: Follow the Instructions and Advice of Your Local Government. If you are told to evacuate, do so promptly. If you are instructed to go to a certain location, go there - DON'T go anywhere else. If certain travel routes are specified or recommended, use those routes rather than trying to find short cuts of your own. If you are advised to shut off your water, gas, or electric service before leaving home, do so. Also, find out on the radio where emergency housing and mass feeding stations are located, in case you need to use them. Keep tuned to your radio or television station for advice and instructions from local government on where to obtain medical care, where to get assistance for such necessities as housing, clothing, and food, and how to help yourself and the community to recover.

Special Advice on Flash Floods

In many areas, unusually heavy rains or dam failure may cause quick or "flash" floods. Small creeks, gullies, dry stream beds, ravines, culverts, or even low-lying ground frequently flood quickly and endanger people, sometimes before any warning can be given. Examples: Rapid City, 1972; Big Thompson Canyon, 1976, Fort Collins, 1997; Manitou Springs and La Junta, 1999. Dam Failure: Lawn Lake Dam (Estes Park), 1982.

National Weather Service offices issue three types of flash flood products: a Flash Flood Watch, Flash Flood Warnings, and a Small Stream and Urban Flood Advisory. A Flash Flood Watch means that heavy rains occurring or expected to occur may soon cause flash flooding in certain areas. Citizens should be alert to the possibility of a flood emergency, which will require immediate action. A Flash Flood Warning means that flash flooding is occurring or imminent on certain streams or designated areas. Those in the warning area should respond immediately.

Never Attempt to Outrun a Flood in Your Vehicle. Abandon the vehicle and climb to safety. If you are in a canyon, attempt to reach high ground by climbing directly up the canyon sides.

Abandon Stalled Vehicles in Flooded Areas if you can do so safely. Flood waters may rise and sweep the vehicle and occupants away. Many deaths have resulted from attempts to either outrun a flood or to move a stalled vehicle.

Never Try to Drive Through Flooded Areas. Remember that it only takes 18 to 24 inches of moving water to move an auto. If an area is flooded, take an alternate route to reach your destination. The depth of the flood waters will be unknown, the road may be undermined and a current may exist which could sweep your vehicle away. Many deaths have occurred by people trying to drive through flooded areas.


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