How to prepare in case of flash flooding


Devastating floods significantly impacted many Broward County residents on April 12, when over 2 feet of rain fell in a day, causing over 900 residents to need rescuing, according to Ft. Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis. 

Centered in the southern portion of the county, hundreds of people were trapped in their cars and many were forced to evacuate their homes as a result of the historic rainfall. Many remained without power for several days, and some of those who were most affected lost nearly everything in their homes. 

While this event was uncommon, it is an important reminder that events like this do occur. Being prepared beforehand and knowing what to do during a flood can be crucial during such a chaotic experience.

One preparedness tactic that can prove vital in the event of a flood is to have a disaster supply kit available in both your home and your car. A kit should include essentials such as water (one gallon per person, per day, for at least three days), a three-day supply of non-perishable food items, a flashlight, extra batteries, hygiene products and prescription medication. A complete emergency kit packing list can be found here.

Having a plan in place for a flood is another key step in being proactive. If you live in a multiple-story home, be ready to move to upper floors if necessary. However, even if your house has multiple stories, you should have a planned location to escape to if advised to do so. It should be somewhere that would likely not be affected by any flooding impacting your area, but should also be accessible when roads become blocked due to water.

When you receive an alert for incoming floods, it can be useful to know what the alert actually communicates. A “flood watch” or a “flash flood watch” means that there are conditions that may lead to a flood or flash flood, while a “flood warning” or a “flash flood warning” means that a flood or flash flood is going to occur soon or is already occurring (The Red Cross). During a flood, pay attention to any Emergency Alert System (EAS) messages you receive, and monitor the NOAA weather radio or other trusted news sources for up-to-date weather information (

During a flood or flash flood situation, it is important to keep in mind the dangers that the water itself poses. Six inches of moving water is enough to knock a person down, and can contain sharp items, sewage and chemicals- so avoid walking through water if at all possible (

If you are caught in your car during flash flooding, make an effort to avoid driving into waters of unknown depth. Keep in mind that six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars, which can lead to the car stalling or the driver losing control. One foot of moving water can float most cars. If water reaches a point where your car risks floating away, and you are able to do so safely, try to abandon the car and move to higher ground. This can prevent you from getting trapped in the floating car. (

Flash floods are quick and unpredictable- making it difficult to respond in time. Putting in a little bit of effort beforehand to prepare yourself and your family for such an event can mean the difference between safely making it out or not.