3 Things You Should Know About Flood Events

Floods September 24, 2014 Print Friendly and PDF

Flooded river gauge.

Flood events are the most frequent type of natural hazard. They impact communities all over the world. Be ready if a flood impacts your community. You should know what type(s) of flood you may encounter, characteristics of floods, and issues specific to your region.

1. Types of floods

Depending on where you live, you and your property may be at risk of one or more of the following types of flood events.

  • Coastal flooding
  • Flash flooding
  • Urban flooding
  • Rural flooding
  • River flooding

2. Characteristics of floods

Floods vary due to characteristics such as speed of onset, length of water inundation, type of water, and potential cascading or secondary disasters.

  • Speed of onset - slow vs. quick onset – Some flooding events, such as a snow melt flood, will leave ample time to prepare, while a flash flood often will occur without much warning or time to prepare.
  • Length of water inundation - moving vs. standing water – Depending on the event, water could come in and out of the area relatively quickly or stay for weeks or months.
  • Type of water - freshwater vs. saltwater flooding - Water salinity will have varying impacts on the flooded area.
  • Associated hazards – Depending on the type of event and other conditions in the community, flooding may be compounded by other hazards, including ice, wind, or chemical spills.

3. Regional differences in floods

If you are interested in preparing for a potential flood event, or are in the process of responding to or recovering from a flood event, take note of regional differences. While there is a lot of information about flooding that applies to all communities across the United States, there are issues that may be specific to your area. It is important to understand the unique features, risks, and vulnerabilities in your community. For example, states and even cities and counties may have different requirements for things such as building permits and insurance requirements. Be sure to check this information for your locality. Permits may be issued by a Planning, Building Inspections, or Zoning and Building department. Other notable regional differences may include unique agricultural issues. Contact your local extension office if you have questions.

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.