Nationally, floods claim nearly 200 lives each year, force 3000,000 persons from their homes and result in damage in excess of 2 billion dollars. About 75 percent of flash-flood deaths occur at night. Half the victims die in automobiles or other vehicles. Many deaths occur when people drive around road barricades that clearly indicate the road is washed out ahead.
Last year in Minnesota, there were few instances of heavy rain. One of the heaviest rainfalls occurred on June 9 when five to six inches of rain flooded an Owattona hotel and nearby areas. Another heavy rainfall occurred on August 16 when three to six inches of rain fell quickly and caused cars to stall on Interstate 90 near Austin.
No deaths occurred last year, but there was one flash flood fatality in 2005. A man was swept from his vehicle after three – six inches of rain in Goodhue County caused a creek to rise 20 feet over its normal level, sending rushing water over Highway 1 near Wanamingo.
Are you prepared?
Assume a thunderstorm produces six inches of rain in less than six hours time near your community. Storms of this magnitude occur several times every year in the United States. Would you know how to protect yourself and people who depend on you? After any major flood event, survivors inevitably say they didn’t believe it could happen to them.
Before the Flood
No one can prevent the occurrence of rainfall that produces flash floods. However, you can reduce risks of death and property destruction by:
- Working toward sound flood-plain zoning,
- Developing an emergency action plan in advance,
- Purchasing flood insurance at least 30 days prior to flooding, and
- Being aware of the dangers of heavy rainfall and floods.
For more information, contact the National Weather Service at http://www.nws.noaa.gov/