Texas leads the nation in flood-related deaths and holds about half of the world records for highest rainfall rates in less than 48 hours. Austin lies in the center of Flash Flood Alley (from San Antonio to Dallas), where flash flooding is the number one natural disaster threat to the area.
Flash floods have been the number one storm-related killer for the past 25 years in Austin, with about 10 percent of the land in Austin inside the floodplain.
Six months ago, the historic Memorial Day Floods damaged nearly 350 homes, most of which were not covered by insurance, and displaced over 1,000 people, killing 24 according to the Associated Press.
Even if you are covered, many homeowners and renters policies do not typically cover flooding or sewage backup, but you can purchase a flood insurance policy and sewage policy separately through a local insurance agent before floods occur.
Here are just a few safety guidelines to consider in the event of a flood emergency:
- Stay updated. Register your phone to receive emergency notifications from the Regional Notification System (RNS) and visit ATX Floods for current flood information and emergency road closures in the Austin Travis County Metro area. For emergency updates and information, you can dial 2-1-1 or follow local agencies, such as Austin HSEM and ATCEMS, on social media.
- Create an emergency wallet card for your family that lists your emergency contacts and meeting place in case of an emergency.
- Tune in to local television and/or radio for recommendations from local officials on whether to stay in your home or evacuate to another location.
- If you are advised to stay home, the following items should be readily available:
food and water – (non-perishable foods, can opener, water and/or water purifier)
first aid-kit – (backup prescriptions, band-aids, scissors, tweezers, antiseptic, oral thermometer)
personal hygiene products – (hand sanitizer, toilet paper, travel soaps, dental care, extra clothes)
lighting / fire – (flashlights with extra batteries, candles, fire starter)
communication – (hand-crank radio, two-way radios / walkie talkies, extra batteries for flashlights, lanterns, radio)
- Have important documents such as photo IDs, proof of residence, etc. in a safe place that is easily accessible as this information may be needed later for insurance claims.
- If you are in a low-lying area that is being flooded, get to higher ground immediately. Avoid canyons and washes that can channel water.
- Do not cross flooded roads or streams on foot.
More than 50 percent of all flash flood fatalities nationwide involve vehicles. Flooded roads are especially dangerous at night, so avoid them whenever possible. According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, nearly eight out of 10 vehicle-related flood fatalities occurred between the hours of 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.
For more information on emergency preparedness, you can visit Disaster Ready Austin (DRA) website here.