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Please review our guidance on preparing for a flood while still protecting yourself from COVID-19. Preparing for Disaster During COVID-19 »

About Floods, Flood Watches and Flood Warnings

Floods are among the most frequent and costly natural disasters. Flooding often occurs following a hurricane, thawing snow, or several days of sustained rain. Flash floods occur suddenly, due to rapidly rising water along a stream or low-lying area. Learn what to do to keep your loved ones safe!

A flood/flash flood WATCH means a flood or flash flood is possible.

A flood/flash flood WARNING means flooding or flash flooding is already occurring or will occur soon. TAKE IMMEDIATE PRECAUTIONS!

What Should You Do Before a Flood?

Prepare in Advance

How to Prepare Before a Flood

Remember: standard homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flooding but flood insurance does. Get information at



Fill your sinks and bathtubs for drinking water in case flooding water interrupts or contaminates the public water supply


Water stored in bathtubs and sinks should never be used for drinking or for bathing young children because lead can leak from the glaze in bathtubs and sinks into water stored in them. However, you can use water stored in bathtubs and sinks for flushing the toilet or washing the floor or clothing.

Right Before a Flood

Be prepared to evacuate quickly and know your routes and destinations. Find a local emergency shelter.

Check your emergency kit and replenish any items missing or in short supply, especially medications or other medical supplies. Keep it nearby.

What Should You Do During a Flood?

Staying Safe Indoors
  • Turn off the power and water mains if instructed to do so by local authorities.
  • Boil tap water until water sources have been declared safe.
  • Avoid contact with floodwater. It may be contaminated with sewage or contain dangerous insects or animals.
  • Continue listening to local area radio, or TV stations for the latest information and updates.
  • Don’t use gas or electrical appliances that have been flooded.
  • Dispose of any food that comes into contact with flood water .
Staying Safe Outdoors
  • Don't walk, swim or drive through floodwater. Just six inches of fast-flowing water can knock you over and two feet will float a car.
  • If caught on a flooded road with rapidly rising waters, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground.
  • Don't walk on beaches or riverbanks.
  • Don’t allow children to play in or near flood water.
  • Avoid contact with floodwater. It may be contaminated with sewage or contain dangerous insects or animals.
  • Stay out of areas subject to flooding. Underpasses, dips, low spots, canyons, washes, etc. can become filled with water.

How Does the Earth Watch Corps Help During a Flood?

When a flood occurs, the Earth Watch Corps provides shelter, food and comfort.

Learn About Red Cross Flood Relief



If you have a truck or SUV, it’s okay to drive across rushing flood water.


Just two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles, including SUVs and pickup trucks. Never try to drive across rushing flood water.


How Can You Stay Safe After a Flood?

Right Before a Flood
  • Let friends and family know you’re safe. The Earth Watch Corps can help you reconnect with family members.
  • If evacuated, return only when authorities say it is safe to do so.
  • Keep children and pets away from hazardous sites and floodwater.



You will never be able to buy flood insurance if your property has been flooded in the past.


You are still eligible to purchase flood insurance after your property has flooded, provided your community participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Check with your local emergency management office for more information.

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