Hurricane Matthew has caused major flooding throughout eastern and central North Carolina with the potential for more flooding as various rivers crest. As streams and rivers continue to swell, the greatest threat to life and property remains inland flooding.
“As we have learned from past experience, the most deaths occur after the storm has passed,” Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry said. “Citizens can reduce their risk of injury or harm by avoiding driving through flooded roads and knowing what action to take should flooding occur. And if you do find yourself in a life-threating emergency, dial 9-1-1 and emergency responders will be deployed as quickly as possible.”
Emergency Management officials offer the following flood safety tips to families impacted by floodwaters:
- Flood hazard areas have been mapped in each of the state’s 100 counties and local emergency managers are familiar with those potential flood areas. However, it is up to you to make preparations at your home if flood waters threaten.
- Flood currents can be strong and hazardous. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA, keeps a round-the-clock surveillance on the nation’s rivers and is prepared to issue warnings when the threat of flooding occurs. If you live in a flood zone, you may prevent loss if you make advance preparations.
- Be aware of what could happen if dams in your area fail. Learn evacuation routes and shelter locations. Listen to radio and television for information or instructions from local emergency managers.
- Turn around, don’t drown. Do not drive through floodwaters. If you cannot see the line markings on the road, do not go through the water. Do not drive over bridges, dips in the road, or low spots.
- Moving water is the most dangerous. It takes less than two feet of water to float the average size car.
- Most deaths in flash flooding occur in automobiles. The water depth may be too great to allow a car to cross a flooded area of the road safely. Vehicles caught in rising water should be abandoned quickly. Move to higher ground.
- Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize the dangers of floods and flash floods. If flash flooding is observed, act quickly. Move to higher ground to escape floodwaters. Do not stay in areas subject to flooding when water begins rising.
- Stay away from areas that are already flooded. Never try to cross a flowing stream on foot, not even a small stream. Safety officials point out that it only takes a few inches of moving water to sweep an adult off their feet.
- Do not try to swim or dive into the water. Do not canoe or kayak on flooding rivers. Currents are deadly. Watch for mudslides, broken sewers or water mains.
For more information about responding to a hurricane and what to do before, during or after a storm, go to ReadyNC.org. You can also get real-time traffic and weather updates on the ReadyNC mobile app. Follow N.C. Emergency Management on Twitter and Facebook for the latest on Hurricane Matthew