How to Survive a Flood

This spring / beginning of summer has brought torrential rainfalls in the plains states down to the gulf coast of Texas and Louisiana.

Along with such serious rainfall comes flooding. And there is a lot of flooding – and flash flooding – happening in this region.

Millions of dollars of property damage is occurring due to these floods. And over 30 counties in Texas alone have been declared disaster areas.

Cars abandoned on a flooded I-45 outside Houston, TX.

It will take time for the people directly impacted to rebuild their homes and businesses. Roads and bridges will have to be repaired and rebuilt where they are now missing.

But for some people … there is no rebuilding.

Flooding claims lives just as easily as it does the structures we build. Many lives have been claimed in Texas recently due to flash flooding.

The National Weather Service claims that over a 30 year average 95 lives are lost each year to flooding in the United States. Most of those attributed to people driving into flooded roads.

95 fatalities a year isn’t a big number. In fact over 3,500 people die annually in the US in non-boating related accidental drownings.

Why worry about surviving a flood?

If you’re caught in a flood you don’t have control! Flowing water of any great magnitude is unstoppable by us mere humans.

Flash flooding occurs quickly and sometimes without warning. The media, news, and radio have become quite good at warning people about the potential for flash flooding. But they’re not always perfect and we’re not always paying attention.

In fact you don’t even have to be where the rain is occurring to be caught off-guard by flash flooding.

Preparing to Survive a Flood

The most important aspect to surviving a surge of flood waters is being prepared!

You can prepare your home and family by:

  • Not building in a floodplain. Unless you build a properly elevated and reinforced home.
  • Elevating crucial elements such as electrical breaker boxes, water heater, a/c unit if susceptible to flooding.
  • If you have a basement make sure they drainage system is operable and properly coat the walls and floor to prevent seepage.
  • Construct flood resistant barriers such as levees, berms, and floodwalls to direct flood waters away from your home.
  • Store ample survival supplies, food, water, batteries, NOAA WEATHER RADIO, etc to last a couple of weeks. Flooding can destroy infrastructure and cut you off from supplies for extended periods of time. Use waterproof containers …
  • Shutting off your utilities to your home. Turn off your breaker box and disconnect your water supply. Unplug all electrical appliances and move crucial and important items to your second floor if you have one. Be careful with any electronics or plugs if your home is already flooding. Water is a great conductor of electricity!
  • Preparing your evacuation / bug out kit. Don’t forget to use waterproof packaging and to carefully stowe important identification and crucial documents you need to take with you.
  • Make sure your homeowner’s – or renter’s – insurance is always up-to-date. Homeowners policies don’t necessarily cover flooding and separate coverage may need to be purchased. Checkout FloodSmart.gov for more info.

In the event of major flooding there may be nothing you can do to save your home. Please be prepared to evacuate with ample time if you’re at high or even moderate risk.

Home devestated by flooding in Wimberly, TX.

To understand the power of flooding check out this recent story about a family being swept away by rising flood waters while in a vacation home in Texas: Grandfather Holds Out Hopes That Family Swept in Texas Floods Will Be Found

YOU CAN’T STOP FLOOD WATERS! this statement can’t be stressed enough. If at all possible evacuation is always preferable to being stuck in a flood. Be prepared and stay informed!

What to do during a flood.

When it is actively flooding you want to avoid the water!

Do not drive into flood waters! Your vehicle isn’t meant for it. Your engine and electronics can easily be shorted out leaving you stranded in the waters. Then it’s very easy for you and your vehicle to be swept away. Even if you believe the water isn’t deep there is a likelihood that your vehicle can be hung up on an unseen obstacle. Branches, trees, and other debris accompany flooding.

People often misjudge the strength that even slow moving water can contain. Many people drown every year by making this mistake. Water doesn’t have to be ‘rushing’ in order to pick up and carry your vehicle away.

Even experienced 4×4 drivers that have modified their vehicles to cross water need be very weary when it comes to flood waters. Enter at your own peril. As a 4×4 enthusiast even I avoid any unnecessary or questionable water crossings. Putting my life – or my loved ones lives – in that kind of danger isn’t worth the bragging rights.

Flood Survival Tips:

  • Listen to the radio or watch the news for updates on the developments of flooding in your area. They will be the first to warn you of enhanced risk and real-time happenings. They will also try to inform you if you may want to evacuate. You don’t have to wait to be told to leave. If there is a substantial risk move to higher ground
  • As mentioned earlier don’t drive through high waters or rushing waters. If you can’t see the road you don’t know what’s down there. And in some cases you can’t see if the road has been washed away …
  • If you have to walk – or wade – through flood water out of necessity to survive use a stick or pole to aid in balance and to test the ground in front of you. Beware of currents. Find still water to traverse if at all possible. And realize that some water crossings should not be attempted …
  • If your home is flooding and you can not evacuate then go to the highest point. Find bright, attention getting materials and climb onto your roof. Once safely on the roof signal for help.
  • After coming into contact with flood waters wash and disinfect as soon as possible. There’s a reason why heavy rain is sometimes called a “turd floater”. Flood waters
  • Watch for and avoid downed power lines. They may not be turned off and electrocution is not uncommon from downed power lines during and after floods.
  • Be aware of and avoid areas and roads that are prone to flooding. Flash flooding happens quickly. Also be aware of creeks, drainage ditches and anywhere water can rapidly rise and flow fast.


  • What do you do after a flood?

    Part of surviving a flood is dealing with the aftermath of the flood. Electrocution is a real risk after a flood. Have the power company fully disconnect your power if your home has been flooded before working on it.

    Flooding often spreads disease, chemicals, and literally … tons of shit. When sewage and water drainage is flooded out it will mix with the flood waters. And if you’re home is in the path it is going to require some serious cleaning before it’s safe to inhabit.

    You will likely need to throw away anything that absorbed flood waters such as couches, recliners, carpet, and other upholstered items. Remove all affected drywall and insulation and replace. In most homes all flooring should be removed and replaced if possible. If in question consult a professional to handle the clean up or to advise you in the proper methods.

    Also before re-entering a structure after a flood it’s important to be aware of all the potential dangers. Always make sure a structure is sound and won’t fall down before entering.

    Animals and snakes may have been washed into your home or have taken shelter there to escape the water.

    Dangerous debris like broken lumber, limbs, glass and metal may also be prevalent after a home is flooded.

    Flash flooding is very serious and causes major damage and loss of life.

    Have you survived a flood? What are doing to prepare for flooding.

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