Flash Flood Alerts in Effect! What Every Homeowner Needs to Know

July 30, 2018

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Flash flood watches and alerts continue to be in effect for the entire I-77 corridor throughout this whole week.

On Monday, the NWS warned that heavy rainfall could lead to flash flooding in many local cities: "Numerous to widespread showers and scattered thunderstorms will develop across the area this afternoon through tonight." The NWS continued, "The main threat from the showers and storms will be heavy to excessive rainfall, which could result in localized flash flooding, especially in urban areas along the I-77 corridor." Areas nearer the coast were said to receive as much as six inches of rain in just a few short days.

Flash floods are especially dangerous because they can appear suddenly, and these types of floods combine the strength of rushing water with incredible speed and unpredictability. Flash floodwaters can also rise rapidly, lifting cars off the road and washing away dams and levees, making the flood deeper and more dangerous!

The difference between a flash flood watch and warning

A flash flood watch means that conditions are favorable for floods to occur. A flash flood warning means that flooding has been reported in a particular area, and you should avoid this area if possible, or take cover right away!

An urban stream advisory means that streets and low-lying areas, such as roads under a freeway overpass, have flooded, or that city storm drains are overflowing. These conditions often lead to a flash flood.

Staying safe during a flood

It's always good for residents of the Charlotte area to have a flood plan in place, to keep them and their family safe during such an emergency. This plan might include setting aside emergency supplies, including bottled water and packaged food, as you might not be able to make it to the supermarket for several days after a flood! You might also have battery-powered flashlights on hand, and ensure any medications you need are in a watertight plastic bag.

To stay safe during a flood, remember the following:

  • Avoid low-lying areas that could be more prone to flooding, or which might hold deep floodwaters. These spots include areas where floodwaters can't flow freely and may collect and gather, such as the road under a freeway overpass or areas with lots of trees.
  • Avoid areas that have already flooded, and never attempt to cross a flood, even if the waters appear to be still. Floodwaters may be deeper than you realize and may also have strong undercurrents that can quickly sweep you away!
  • Stay away from power lines and electrical wiring. Avoid using electrical devices in your own home, as their wiring could be wet and frayed, putting you at risk for a shock.

Protecting your home before a flood

Bag up your valuables before a flood and put these in a watertight plastic bag; this includes essential papers such as birth certificates and social security cards. You can store these in the refrigerator for safekeeping until those floodwaters recede.

If you have sandbags, place these along the doorways around your home, and be sure they're nestled up close to the door, to stop floodwaters from getting inside. If you don't have sandbags, roll up some thick bath towels to create stoppers, and push these against the doorframe.

Unplug and move your valuable electronics, such as televisions and computers, to higher ground. If your home doesn't have a second floor, put these items on a high table or an upper shelf of the entertainment center.

If your home doesn't have a second floor, make a plan for how to protect your children and pets if the house should get flooded. An inflatable air mattress or lightweight plastic tub can keep a child or your four-legged friend out of the water, so they're safe and dry. If you have a kayak or skim board, bring it into the house! These can be used in cases of floods, to hold children and pets off the ground and out of harm's way.

Repairing a home after flood damage

Never try to repair your home on your own after a flood. You might assume that the house is dry after floodwaters have receded, but drywall, carpet padding, and the wood that makes up the framework of your home may have absorbed more water than you realize. That lingering moisture can lead to softened timber that allows your home to settle and shift, as well as mildew under carpets and mold behind the walls!

Standing water and wet building materials are also a breeding ground for pest infestations, as a source of water will entice rats, mice, and all sorts of insects into your home. Failing to have water-damaged building materials appropriately dried or replaced as needed can soon lead to rodents and insects behind your home's walls and under the floors, risking more damage and even your family's health.

Proper cleanup of a home after a flood is also best left to a professional. He or she can scrub walls with chemical solutions that are safe for paint but which will also kill any developing mold, and keep new mold from forming. A water cleanup professional can also roll up carpets so that its padding and the home's subfloor are both thoroughly dried, and inspected for mildew and other such damage.

A professional water remediation service technician will also inspect behind your home's walls, to look for standing water along the home's framework. Removing all that water and ensuring that the home's insulation, electrical wiring, and frame are thoroughly dry will make sure your home is safe and structurally sound, no matter the extent of flooding.

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