A flood is an abnormal progressive rise in the water level of an area which is normally dry. Floods can be caused by heavy rainfall, overflowing of streams or rivers, dam or levee failures, tsunamis, storm surges, burst water mains and blockage of water channels.

Levels of Flooding

Minor Flooding

  • Due to accumulation of excessive surface runoff.
  • Flood waters consigned to the flood plain immediately along a
    river ghaut/channel or in random low-lying and topographically depressed areas
  • Flooding is relatively shallow and there is no perceptive flow of water when inundation is rapidly spreading to adjacent areas

Major Flooding

  • Due to overflowing of rivers and lakes, storm surge, torrential rains, unexpected and serious breaks in dikes, levees and other protective structures or uncontrolled releases of
    dam water
  • Coverage of a wide continuous area and rapid spreading to adjacent areas of relatively lower elevation

Know what to do

Before the flood

  • Know the flood warning system in your community and ensure that your family knows the warnings.
  • Learn all you can about flooding.
  • Monitor weather conditions.
  • Keep on hand materials like lumber, plywood, nails, rope, wires, plastic sheeting, sandbags, etc.
  • Keep a portable transistor radio with spare batteries and emergency equipment.
  • Store all chemicals in suitable water resistant/proof containers and sufficiently elevated to avoid flood waters.
  • Store livestock feed and supplies above expected water levels.

During the warning

  • Listen for emergency instructions.
  • Watch for rapidly rising water.
  • Store drinking water in sealed plastic containers as water service may be interrupted.
  • Move household items to higher levels.
  • Get livestock to higher ground.
  • Evacuate quickly and safely.
  • Turn off electricity at the main switch before evacuating.

During the flood

  • Avoid areas subject to flash flooding.
  • Don’t attempt to cross rivers or flowing streams where water is above the knees.
  • Beware of water covered roads and bridges.
  • Avoid driving through flood areas.

After the flood

  • Re-enter building with caution. Use flashlights, not lanterns or torches as flammables may be inside.
  • Be alert for the hazards such as broken electrical wires.
  • If the building has been under water, do not switch on the main, wait for professional assistance. Never touch electrical switches while wet or standing in water.
  • Don’t use appliances or equipment until they have been cleaned, dried and thoroughly checked for damage.
  • Report downed utility lines (electricity, water, gas, and telephone) to the appropriate authorities.
  • Boil all water.
  • Discard food stuff that has come into direct contact with flood water.
  • Keep away from disaster areas as your presence may hamper rescue efforts.

Livestock Protection

  • All livestock should have visible identification numbers.
  • Animals can swim well. Do not leave them in confined areas or pens. Open gates so animals can escape.
  • There is the option of moving livestock to higher ground and denying them access to flood-prone areas and structures.
  • Secure enough food and clean water for after the flood.
  • Protect livestock from the threat of fires.
  • Following a flood, there can be a danger of infectious diseases so observe livestock for sickness.

What to do about flood

  • Take action to reduce your risk and loss through mitigation.
  • Improve drainage around your house if your yard floods easily.
  • Strengthen the foundation of your house to resist the force of the water.
  • If constructing in an area that has flooded in the past, it could flood again so
    raise the level of the structure to ensure water can pass freely through the property.
  • Ensure that slopes around the property have vegetation that binds the soil, as slopes may become saturated with water leading to landslides. Plants and trees absorb water and the roots help prevent landslides.
  • Do not buy or build in areas which are subject to consistent flooding.
  • Electrical outlets, fuse boxes, and plugged-in equipment (like refrigerators
    and generators) need to be above the flood water level, so you avoid being
  • Buy flood insurance.

Facts about floods

  • Abuse of the environment such as cutting down trees at a rate faster than they
    grow, or clogging of waterways with garbage can lead to flooding.
  • More people die from drowning in fresh water floods during a hurricane or
    storm than from any other cause.
  • Flood waters can destroy roads, buildings and bridges.
  • Mud, oil and other pollutants carried by water can ruin crops and building
  • Sewerage systems may overflow. Drinking water facilities may become
    contaminated and diseases may break out.
  • Six inches of fast moving water can sweep a person away and twelve
    inches of fast moving water can take a car away.
  • When the soil gets saturated landslides may occur.