Floods and Flash Floods
On a National Level...
Floods claim nearly 200 lives annually, force 300,000 persons from their homes, and result in property damage in excess of 2 billion dollars. Characteristically, 75 percent of flash flood deaths occur at night with half of the victims dying in their automobiles or other vehicles. It may be difficult to believe, but many deaths occur when persons knowingly drive around road barricades indicating the road is washed out ahead.
Water year 2013 saw two flood related deaths in the state... one related to spring snowmelt runoff near Minto ND, and a second related to flash flooding near Gwinner ND. The water year of 2012 was quite dry across the state, and the first really statewide drought period since the late 1980s... and no flood related fatalities were reported. Though 2010 and 2011 were both very active years for spring flooding and summertime flash flooding, there were no direct flood-related fatalities or significant injuries in North Dakota. There were a few indirect deaths as vehicles overturned into flooded ditches and waterways or fishing and boating incidents occurred.
In the spring of 2013 and again in the spring of 2014... several persons were rescued from their vehicles after they drove into flood waters. So far this year, minor to moderate snowmelt flooding led to several road closures and a few close calls - Don't drive through water flowing across the road... Turn Around, Don't Drown!
Are You Prepared?
Assume a thunderstorm produces 6 inches of rain in less than 6 hours time near your community. Storms of this magnitude or greater occur several times each year in the U.S. Would you know what action to take to protect yourself and the people who depend on you for safety? After a major flood event, one of the most common quotes from the survivors of the flood is the expression they did not believe it could happen to them or in their community.
Before the Flooding...
There is nothing anyone can do to prevent the occurrence of flash flood producing rainfall. However, by striving for sound flood plain zoning, developing an emergency action plan in advance of the disaster, purchasing flood insurance at least 30 days before the flooding, and being aware of the dangers associated with extremely heavy rainfall and flooding, there is a chance of decreasing the death toll and property damage that results from flash flooding.
More information on Severe Summer Weather Awareness Week.