Waking up to torrential rain as a hurricane is heading your way is not a pretty picture. People falsely believe that if their region is above sea level, they will eventually be OK. However, Mother Nature can prove us wrong as we are currently seeing in Texas. The rising waters of a flood can cause more damage and take more lives than the actual hurricane that caused the flooding.
When there are all sorts of warning signs appearing all around you, decisions need to be made and fast… Leaving your home behind may not be easy, but you have to think about your safety first. A flood can easily trap you in your home if you wait too long. You may be trapped in your neighborhood and there’s no telling when or if rescue will come. You should always plan ahead and keep your bug out bag in reach. Not to mention that if you plan to bug in, you should at least have supplies for such scenario.
It really bugs me when I keep seeing the same scenarios over and over again. Grocery stores, depleted of resources, cars blocked on highways and people lacking common sense. What’s going on right now is a tragedy, no doubt about it, but people fail to understand that all of this could have had a different outcome.
It seems that we cannot learn from the past and we keep having the same attitude of “it won’t happen to us”. Katrina wreaked havoc in New Orleans, just because the region was below sea level, some people said. They said that Texas should be fine and the waters will recede eventually. However, if memory serves me right, Texas was hit before by deadly floods in late spring 2015. The people who learned from those experiences didn’t wait around to see how things will unfold.
My brother in law lives in Huston and he managed to evacuate with his family during the early signs. My wife called him and told them to get out while they still can. To my surprise, they listened to her and now they are safe. I said “to my surprise” because they are the type of people that do not approve of our lifestyle and they think emergency preparedness is unnecessary in our modern times and just a waste of time and money.
I’m not trying to change people and I just want to spread awareness about emergency preparedness and how to stay safe. That being said, here are my suggestions to survive the rising waters of a flood.
Suggestions to survive the rising tide of a flood
Weather is predictable
Weather can be predicted with pretty good accuracy nowadays and we always check the weather channel before going on vacation. Since the balance of nature can be affected when multiple weather events collide, we should always keep a close eye on storm seasons. Just like you can predict the weather, you could also predict the outcome of certain events. All it takes is good judgment and willingness to take action when the time calls for it.
When rains pour down and there’s no sign of stopping, maybe you should think about bugging out, now when you still have the chance to do so. You should think about this especially when rainfall records are registered day after day.
Weather reports should be the first warning sign that things are not looking well. When emergency services come into play and they warn you about rain-causing floods that are unprecedented, that’s the time when you need to act. When it comes to emergency preparedness, there are two types of evacuations: voluntary and mandatory. If you’re waiting for an evac order, you should be prepared for it and you should have everything needed to reach your destination (BOB, BOV and other supplies).
Related article: Know Your Region Before Disaster Strikes
Most people will be hesitant to leave their homes behind, whether for emotional, financial or spiritual reasons. I can understand this, but people should keep a logical head and understand that everything can be replaced, except human lives. Follow the instructions if you are ordered to evacuate. You should be out the door, by the time emergency personnel comes to check on your neighbors.
Bugging in or bugging out? The million dollar question.
These are decisions that can have different consequences. Whatever you chose to do, the outcome is something you have to live with. Before you take a firm decision, it helps to look back and to learn from the history of your region. If water flooded your home before, more than once, it may likely do so again. If your home has survived strong storms in the past without major flooding, you could ride out the next storm. You may have better chances staying at home than in one of the camps set up by the government.
Plan ahead and make sure you can provide your family with everything they need, rather than waiting on the municipality, state or federal aid. Reach out to your neighbors and help each other out with setting sandbag barricades or planning evacuation. Keep checking the news and weather reports because you can still have time to evacuate if the streets are not completely flooded.
Go for high ground
As you’ve seen this past couple of days, a flood situation may quickly develop and people are pushed higher and higher in their houses. Most of them seek refuge on a second floor, but sometimes that’s not enough. The tide may rise beyond your ability to escape and you will have to go on the roof to have a chance of making it.
Recommended reading: Disaster strikes – What To Do?
If you do so, make sure you can protect yourself from the cold and the elements. I’ve seen people setting up tents on the roof while waiting for rescue teams and I’ve seen people taking refuge in their attic. If you plan to use the attic, make sure you have a way of escape without having to go back below. Keep some tools at hand to break out of your attic if you are forced to do so.
Never go back below
Most people go back to a flooded level because they forgot to retrieve important items. Think about that before the waters start rising and move everything you may need upstairs. Pack everything you need in waterproof bags and keep them secure for later use. You will need spare clothes to stay dry so make sure you have some packed.
Another reason to avoid returning to a flooded floor is possible electrocution. People post photos of their flooded homes and I’ve seen many have working lights and electricity. The water may reach the electrical boxes of your home and things can turn ugly for everyone around. If you absolutely must go down to a flooded level, listen for popping or hissing sounds first, as well as sparks.
How to escape high water?
If you get stuck in your home and the waters keep rising, make sure you have all the supplies to signal for help. A can of spray paint or colored sheets can help you improvise a rescue signal on your roof. You will be able to alert rescuers of your presence if they see bright colors.
You shouldn’t try to leave your home unless you have a boat. People believe that large SUVs and trucks can keep them safe and they can properly drive in a few inches of water. However, those sturdy cars can be easily washed away and overpowered by rising waters during a flood. If there are 18 inches of water covering the streets, your SUV will start to float. Not to mention that the electronics of your car may be fried and you can get stuck in your car. You will be left in a worse situation than if you’d stayed in your house. Make sure you keep an emergency car breaking tool in your car. It may literally save your life.
Driving during a flood is particularly difficult because water creates a level surface that can hide a changing depth. The hazards are not visible and the roads you have driven countless times before can leave you stranded in the middle of nowhere. If you passed the point of no return, stay in your home and wait for rescue crews to arrive. If you live in an area that is prone to flooding, it’s a smart thing to keep some life vests in your garage, but also to buy a small boat.
Suggested article: What to Consider Before You Bug out by Boat
The dangers of walking in water
I’ve seen on the news how people were walking through flood waters without thinking much about it. Although it may not seem dangerous at first, there are all sorts of hazards that you cannot see. Cutting and trapping dangers are always present when flood hits. Not to mention that current may be faster underwater than above. A half-foot of fast moving water is all it takes to knock a person off their feet and carry them away. You could be knocked unconscious or suffer broken bones and that may be the end for some.
Not to mention that humans are not the only ones affected by a flood. Various animals can be displaced and confused. Snake, spiders, and vermins could be trapped in your home, and you should avoid dealing with a cornered animal. When Gators come into play, the situation changes completely and you should stay out of the water.
Now, if you have to travel in your flooded neighborhood, think about using a shallow draft boat. A canoe, aluminum skiff or even an inflatable raft should do the job. These small boats cannot be overpowered in small bodies of water and are ideal for your neighborhood streets. If you have one powered by a small engine, you should have no problem moving around.
The waters will eventually recede
After a few days, things will return to normal and people will head back home. However, the survival challenges are not over and you will have to deal with various problems during the cleanup. Besides having to clean the tons of mud and debris, you also have to check the integrity of your home. Some homes may be uprooted from their foundations and they will become a real hazard for their owners.
Even if your home is still in place, you have to check its structural integrity as walls may be compromised and the ground underneath flooring may be eroded. Don’t rush back in and check for broken gas lines and other hazards. Call an experienced person, someone with constructions background to do this for you if you don’t know where to start.
Sanitation will also become a problem and raw sewage mixed with water and other waste will contaminate everything it touches. There will be a lot of cleaning to do, so make sure you have everything you need. I’ve discussed in a previous article about how to make a disaster tool kit. I recommend reading it to figure out what you need for the rebuilding/cleaning stage.
Natural disasters are becoming a common occurrence and their intensity is increasing year after year. It seems that people have a lot to learn about being ready to survive a flood and only a few make a plan. Making a survival flood plan and acting upon it should be mandatory for people living in areas susceptible to flooding. Sometimes, survival is all about having a little bit of common sense. You don’t need to wait until you’re over your head to decide what to do. You shouldn’t wait for evacuation orders or rescue crews. Get out while you can and stop hoping that things will get better.
Other Useful Resources:
A DIY Project to Generate Clean Water Anywhere
Discover the lost ways of living of our ancestors
Learn how to Safeguard your Home for when SHTF
2 thoughts on “How To Survive the Rising Waters of a Flood”
We try to stay prepared for hurricane season. This time we decided to take stock of our needs and make out a list of what we actually needed for the event we just experienced in Houston. We , fortunately live in one of the neighborhoods that did not have homes that flooded . thank you for all the informative articles that you write.
Very good essay Bob. I read it all and though some of it is common sense, you mention some very useful things, like if you retreat to the attic bring tools to break through the roof if you have to. My attic does not have a hatch to the roof as some older homes do.
I am one that is very reluctant to evacuate my home. Only so many valuables can be put in the car and whatever is left behind is open to looters who know the area has evacuated. This goes for any disaster, not just floods.