Author: Joshua Hammond
On August 17, 2021, Tropical Strom Fred swept through western North Carolina. The storm brought devastating floods that claimed at least five lives. Middle Tennessee experienced similar deadly floods the following week, after receiving several inches of rain. During hurricanes, flooding causes more damage and lives lost than any other hazard.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that each year flooding is responsible for more deaths than any other hazard related to thunderstorms. Flooding poses other risks, such as disease and chemical hazards. Be sure to protect yourself and loved ones.
You can help mitigate flooding around your home or neighborhood by making sure that storm drains, culverts and drainage ditches stay clear of debris or heavy vegetation. This helps stormwater runoff properly and not back up into streets, homes and basements.
Before a storm, make sure you’re prepared. Have an adequate supply of food and clean sources of water. You can fill up bathtubs, sinks or plastic containers to store large amounts of water. It is also recommended that all outdoor items such as lawn furniture and grills be brought inside.
If there is an evacuation order, it is a good idea to have a family evacuation plan and know evacuation routes. If you live in coastal North Carolina, the Know Your Zone program has established pre-determined coastal evacuation zones in 20 counties based on the risk of storm surge or river flooding.
If you do have to evacuate, turn off all utilities at the main valve and close gas lines. If there is standing water on the roadways, do not attempt to drive through it. When the time comes, return home only when local authorities recommend doing so.
Upon returning home after a flood, cleanliness is key. The CDC recommends using diluted laundry bleach for cleaning multiple surfaces throughout your home. While cleaning up after a flood, protect yourself by using rubber gloves and boots. If items cannot be cleaned (rugs, cloth, wall coverings, and dry wall), they will need to be thrown away.
Find out if you live in a flood prone area and how flood insurance can lessen the cost to your family by visiting flood.nc.gov. If you need assistance with cleanup from flooding in western North Carolina call 828-222-3975, this hotline will remain open through September 3, 2021.