In September 2009, North Georgia experienced what scientists call one of the worst floods in the country in the last 100 years. Almost half of the state’s annual rainfall of 50 inches fell in some areas in only 24 hours. Ten people lost their lives, and the state insurance commissioner estimated the resulting damage to cost $250 million.
Statistically, the flood was worse than a 500-year flood. Seventeen counties, including Carroll, Catoosa, Chattooga, Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, Crawford, DeKalb, Douglas, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, Newton, Paulding, Rockdale, Stephens, and Walker, received Federal disaster declarations.
Floods are the second most common and widespread of all-natural disasters, after the fire. In Georgia, many communities experience some kind of flooding after spring rains or heavy thunderstorms. Floods can be slow or fast rising but generally develop over a period of days. Dam failures are potentially the worst flood events. When a dam fails, a gigantic quantity of water is suddenly let loose downstream, destroying anything in its path.
Flash floods usually result from intense storms dropping large amounts of rain within a brief period. They occur with little or no warning and can reach a full peak in only a few minutes. Communities, particularly at risk, are those located in low-lying areas, near water, or downstream from a dam.
Prepare for Flooding
- Know your area’s flood risk – if unsure, call your local emergency management agency.
- Property insurance does not typically cover flood damage. Talk to your insurance provider about your policy and consider if you need additional coverage. The National Flood Insurance Program is designed to provide reasonable flood insurance in exchange for the careful management of flood-prone areas by local communities. The program, administered by FEMA, is available in hundreds of participating Georgia communities.
- Reduce potential flood damage by raising your furnace, water heater, and electric panel if they are in areas of your home that may be flooded.
Plan to Evacuate
- Get a disaster supplies kit and prepare a portable Ready kit in case you have to evacuate. Plan how you will leave and where you will go if you are advised to evacuate.
- If you have a car, fill the gas tank.
- If you do not have a car, plan alternate means of evacuating.
- Move your furniture and valuables to higher floors of your home.
- If it has been raining hard for several hours, or steadily raining for several days, be alert to the possibility of a flood.
- Closely monitor a local radio station, TV station, or NOAA Weather Radio for flood information.
- Follow the instructions of local officials. If advised to evacuate, do so immediately.
- Do not drive around barricades. They are there for your safety.
- NEVER drive through standing water. It only takes two feet of water to float a full-sized automobile.
- More than half of flood victims are in vehicles swept away by moving water.
- Move to higher ground away from rivers, streams, creeks, and storm drains.
- Stay out of floodwaters if possible. The water may be contaminated or electrically charged. However, if your car stalls in rapidly rising waters, get out immediately and seek higher ground.
- Six inches of fast-moving water can knock a person off his or her feet
- Stay away from downed power lines to avoid the risk of electric shock or electrocution.
- Do not return to your home until local authorities say it is safe. Even after floodwaters recede, roads and bridges may be weakened and could collapse. Buildings may be unstable, and drinking water may be contaminated. Use common sense and exercise caution.