What You May Not Know About Floods

What You May Not Know About Floods

More than any other weather-related hazards, flooding is the main cause of death, according to the NWS. Why? Most people underestimate the force and power of water. Think about your property and tenants; are they vulnerable to this underestimation?

Flooding doesn’t discriminate. It can happen almost anywhere. Because of this, all property managers should be prepared for flooding as part of their property safety measures. What may seem harmless at first can cause significant damages.

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Spring 2019 was particularly bad for flooding, according to, due to melting snow, additional rain, and rising temperatures. With summer, we have continued to see severe flooding in several Midwestern states, with more dire predictions to come.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) and the NWS advises that flooding is not necessarily a territorial or seasonal situation; it’s a threat across the entire United States and can happen during any month of the year. In fact, just about 75 percent of all Presidential disaster declarations are associated with flooding. Keep in mind that your property is never not vulnerable to flooding damage and danger.

As a property manager, you may already be aware that floods can destroy buildings and property, but they can also roll boulders, tear out trees, and pick up and move cars (which can threaten innocent lives in their path). In fact, the NWS estimates that more than half of all flood-related deaths result from vehicles being swept downstream. After that, the highest percentage of flood-related deaths is due to walking into or near flood waters. The reason again: underestimating the power of water.

The main reason for flooding is pretty-much a no brainer: prolonged rain falling over several days, or intense rain over a short period of time. However, flooding can also be caused by ice or debris jamming a river or stream flow, or a levee or a dam failing to do its job. Another cause of flooding is snowmelt; melting snow accumulates faster than soil can absorb it or than rivers can effectively carry it away.

The National Weather Service has named the most common causes of floods in the United States:

  • Flash flooding (the most common). Read our blog post on flash flood protection and safety.
  • River flooding
  • Storm surge
  • Burn scars/debris flows: burn scars occur after wildfires burn the ground and vegetation; that scarred ground is unable to absorb rain and moisture.
  • Ice or debris jams
  • Snow melt
  • Dry wash: dry wash occurs in dry areas like canyons and deserts; when it does rain, the ground cannot handle it and flooding can occur.
  • Dam breaks or levee failure

Here’s just one of the ways that flood water can fool you: according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, just six inches of fast-moving flood water can knock over an adult. Only 12 inches of rushing water can carry away most cars. Two feet of rushing water can carry away SUVs and trucks. Think of your property’s parking lot and surrounding roads.

Aside from that, be aware of the many ways floods can occur, and the hazards that float along with them. It’s not a hopeless situation- Here are precautions you can take to save your property and your tenants:

  • Create a plan and share it with your tenants. Share a safe location and how to get there in case of emergency. Know where your higher ground is. How are you fixed for property emergency evacuations? Learn more with our blog post here.
  • Educate your tenants on the importance of an emergency kit. Tenants should have enough food, water and medicine for at least three days. Also include batteries, blankets, flashlights, a battery-operated radio, rubber boats and gloves, and a first aid kit. Keep in mind that your tap water may be unsafe to drink or use. Lack of electric power may eliminate cooking and refrigeration.
  • Sign up for real-time notifications. The NOAA offers a nationwide network of radio stations that broadcast continuous weather information directly from the nearest National Weather Service office. It works in collaboration with the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) Emergency Alert System.
  • Have backup. Charge your cell phones and portable radios in case of loss of power or if you need to evacuate. Keep a supply of backup batteries on hand.

Know the difference between a flood watch, warning, and advisory, which is issued by the National Weather Service:

  • Flash flood warning: take action! It’s coming, without a doubt. It can be sudden and violent. It can even happen in areas that is not predicting any rain.
  • Flood warning: take action! A flood is happening, or is imminent.
  • Flood watch: be prepared! Conditions are favorable for a flood. It may not happen, but the causes are there.
  • Flood advisory: be aware! A flood may or may not happen, but it could lead to life-and-property-threatening situations if it does.

Be sure your property has an effective emergency communications system.

Kings III offers all-inclusive services that allow you to choose from a code-compliant package of emergency telephone equipment, installation and maintenance. Also to your benefit: 24-hour state-of-the-art monitoring and dispatch services.

Find out more about how our emergency phone systems and services can bring more control and peace of mind to your property and tenants in the event of flooding and other potential disasters and emergencies.

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