What makes floods so terrifying is that no country is safe. All countries receive rainfall and, unless you reside in the desert, most locations can be at risk of flooding. Whilst some floods cause minor travel issues or social inconveniences, there have been countless occasions where floods have caused mass destruction and loss of life.
In recent years one of the most harrowing floods was caused by the levee failures in New Orleans as a result of Hurricane Katrina. The flood wall failures caused catastrophic flooding to 80% of New Orleans and the entire St. Bernard Parish. Tens of billions of gallons of water spilled into New Orleans, flooding over 100,000 homes and businesses.
Fortunately, between 80 and 90% of the residents of New Orleans were evacuated before the hurricane and subsequent flooding struck but it undoubtedly stole the lives of many and the regeneration project still continues today.
What is a Flood?
Flooding is when water overflows and settles on land that is normally dry. Floods can be just a couple of inches in depth or reach the rooftops of houses. There are many causes of floods, these include:
- Heavy rain
- Snow melt
- Coastal storms and surges
- Waterway blockages
- Burst river banks
- Broken levees or flood walls
Floods can occur over days or happen very quickly, these are known as flash foods and are the most unpredictable.
Where are Floods More Likely to Occur?
Floods can occur practically anywhere but low-lying areas or regions next to anybody or water are most at risk.
When are Floods Most Likely to Happen?
Floods can occur during any season, but countries which have a dedicated rainy season tend to experience them more at this time. Coastal areas are more at risk during hurricane season, whilst some countries experience torrential rain and monsoons during the spring and summer months.
Expats should research the country they are moving to thoroughly in regards to any natural disasters they could experience whilst living there.
General Flood Safety Tips
- Avoid walking or driving through any level of flood water
- Avoid bridges during floods
- Move to higher ground
- Follow any local flood or evacuation advice
Before a Flood
If your area has been forecast heavy rainfall or a hurricane is on its way listen to your TV or radio. You will receive updates about flood risks any emergency instructions. You will need to make yourself aware of where you need to go in the event of an evacuation. Always make sure you have an emergency supplies bag ready to go.
If you have been given ample warning steps can be taken to protect your home from damage. Place all items as high as possible in your home and disconnect all electrical appliances and turn sockets off. Place sandbags around any entrances to your home and try and seal doors and windows as much as possible. Keep pets contained and as high as possible. If you are instructed by emergency services to turn your gas or electricity off, do so.
During a Flood
If you are not told to evacuate by emergency services stay in your home. Move immediately to the highest point you can and await instruction.
Do not attempt to exit your home via foot or car. Just 6 inches of moving water can knock you over and one foot of moving water can push your car.
Listen to all emergency advice and only evacuate if you are told to.
Emergency services will reach you.
After a Flood
If you have been evacuated only return home when the emergency services have given you the green light. Avoid any areas that are still flooded.
Take photographs of your property and car for insurance purposes.
Be careful using any pathways or roads as they have easily have been eroded and dangerous. Also be aware of debris that could cause you harm.