Flash floods are impressive natural disasters that occur when an area receives a significant amount of rainfall in a short amount of time. Low-lying areas are especially vulnerable as water builds and rivers, creeks and other water systems overflow. Ice blocks may dislodge or dams or levees may break, producing the sudden rush of water, with enormous speed and power, that characterizes a flash flood. Widespread Damage The strength and speed of a flash flood are capable of producing devastating results to anything in the flood’s path. Never underestimate flash flood warnings in your area. The waters can knock down trees, tear down bridges, buildings or roads, move large boulders and carve new land channels. Lives can be lost and injuries abound, especially when flash floods appear out of nowhere during the night. Other Natural Disaster Because of the intensity of rainfall during flash floods, the force of the water and the already loosened soil can cause mudslides. |
These natural disasters are similar to flash floods but consist of mud sliding down a hill or valley, causing death and devastating damage hidden beneath thick layers of mud and debris. Limited Warning Although authorities may issue warnings during a hurricane or thunderstorm, instances that involve sudden dam or levee breaks leave little or no time for warnings. Those located downstream from a dam or levee often have no idea about upstream threats that will soon place them in immediate danger. Those within arroyos should be especially mindful of flash flood possibilities; these dry creek beds and canyons, originally carved by water, have the potential of receiving flash flood activity in a matter of seconds, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Dangerous Waters During a flash flood, water levels rise at an incredible pace. It is not uncommon to have waters rise to depths of 30 feet or more, according to the NOAA. Never approach rapidly flowing waters, no matter how deep. You can lose your footing in rushing waters that are only 6 inches deep, and vehicles can be swept away by water only 2 feet deep. After Effects Flash flood damage can knock out electricity within an area indefinitely. Homes should have emergency kits and enough food and water to last a few days, until power can be restored. Tap water may require boiling before use, and private wells should be tested for water quality and safeness. Health Concerns Because flash flood waters pick up everything in their path, they can be filled with chemicals, gases, waste and other harmful pollutants. Stay away from the waters, to avoid development of illness or disease from water contact. Deep water may contain downed power lines, so stay away to avoid possible electrocution. The Clark County (Nevada) Regional Flood Control District states that electrocution is the second leading cause of death during floods.
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