ACTS OF GOD: LEVEE BREAKS AND STORM
When the Levee Breaks
That mean old levee sure does make us weep and moan-especially when it breaks. Flash floods can happen anywhere there are streams and sewers. And in the time it takes to soft-boil an egg, rising flood waters can hit peaks of 30 feet or more. Take flash flood warnings very seriously. You only have minutes or seconds to act.
Get high. A flood watch means that a flood is possible. A warning means that it’s coming very soon. When you hear a watch, move your furniture and valuables to higher floors in your home and fill your gas tank. If you hear a warning, be ready to evacuate the area and find higher ground on a moment’s notice, according to the American Red Cross.
Abandon ship. “If you’re in your car, do not drive into the water. I don’t care how shallow it looks,” implores Johnson. Cars are easily swept away in just two feet of water. If the water’s rising quickly around your car, get out and climb to higher ground.
Don’t go in the water. If you’re in your house and the basement has flooded, don’t go downstairs to investigate. You don’t know what has happened to the electrical system. The water can be charged and you can get a good shock. Once all the water has cleared, don’t try restoring the power or heat yourself; you could start a fire. Call professionals.
When it comes to tropical storms, be thankful that you don’t live in Bangladesh. A cyclone on this island south of India wiped out 139,000 people in 1991. Another killed 300,000 in 1970. In other parts of the world, where we give these cyclonic storms pet names and call them hurricanes, the death tolls aren’t so dramatic, but the devastation is still enormous.
Shop for the season. If you live in a hurricane-prone area, you should keep your food and medical necessities stocked up during late summer and early fall-prime hurricane season. After a severe hurricane, you can go as long as seven days without power or transportation.
Listen to the radio. A watch means that a hurricane may hit your area. A warning means that it will. During a watch, make sure that your car has gas; that you have any important papers, IDs, and daily medications that you need; and that you have a well-planned escape route. When there’s a warning, bring garbage cans and other large objects inside the garage or house. Shut off water, electricity, and gas. Close your shutters or put up plywood over your windows.
Wait the storm out-completely. If you’re there when the storm hits, and you’re told not to evacuate, the safest place to be is underground, such as in a basement. Be sure to stay away from windows. Stay tuned to the weather on a battery-powered radio until authorities issue an “all clear”. Often when the storm seems to subside, it’s really only the calm “eye” of the hurricane and the worst is yet to come. Plus, just to make you feel better, tornadoes can follow hurricanes.