Disasters and Emergencies
Floods and Flash Floods
Floods are one of the most common hazards in the U.S. However, not all floods are alike. Some floods develop slowly – often times over a period of days. But flash floods can develop quickly, sometimes in a matter of minutes and without any visible signs of rain. Flash floods often have a dangerous wall of roaring water that carries rocks, mud and other debris and can sweep away most things in its path.
Overland flooding occurs outside a defined river or stream, such as when a levee is breached, but can still be destructive. Flooding can also occur when a dam breaks, producing effects similar to flash floods – as the Lake Delhi Dam in Delaware County, Iowa, did in July 2010.
You should be aware of flood hazards no matter where you live, but especially if you live in a low-lying area, near water or downstream from a dam. Even very small streams, gullies, creeks, culverts, dry streambeds, or low-lying ground that appear harmless in dry weather can flood. Every state is at risk for flooding.
Mitigation pays. It includes any activities that prevent an emergency, reduce the chance of an emergency happening, or lessen the damaging effects of unavoidable emergencies. Investing in mitigation steps now such as constructing levees and purchasing flood insurance will help reduce the amount of structural damage to your home and financial loss from building and crop damage should a flood or flash flood occur.
Know what to do before, during, and after a flood.
Iowa disaster history
The Great Flood of 1993
The Great Flood of 1993 is considered by many to be one of the most defining natural disasters in Iowa history. Flooding resulted in 17 fatalities and around $2.7 billion in damage (nearly $4.5 billion in 2013 inflation-adjusted dollars). Over 10,000 people were evacuated from their homes and 21,000 homes were damaged–many destroyed. During the summer of 1993 some locations saw rain each day for 130 consecutive days. Some areas flooded more than 5 times. Agricultural yields dropped by 62 percent. Each of Iowa’s 99 counties was declared a Federal Disaster Area. When President Clinton surveyed the Des Moines area flooding on July 14th he stated, “I have never seen anything on this scale before.”
Video credit: KCCI 8 Des Moines