It’s easy to forget about floods until they happen. Floods are one of the most dangerous and costly disasters that happen, and they can happen anywhere. Certain areas are obviously more at-risk than others, like areas near bodies of water, in low elevation, or near seasonally melting ice. But literally anywhere that rains can experience a flood, even deserts.

It is easy to underestimate the power of floods, and if you’re not prepared, they can be devastating to your family, your business, and your home. Here are some important and interesting facts about floods.

1. The Sheer Power of Floods

Because we encounter water harmlessly on a day-to-day basis, it makes water seem unassuming. But during a flood, the sheer force of large amounts of flowing water will prove its power. Just two feet of water is enough to move large cars and even busses. For smaller and lighter cars, simply a few inches of water will be enough to lift it and float it away if the water is moving fast enough. Floods that accumulate over days will have slower moving water, while flash floods are the most dangerous with very fast moving water and quick increases in water level. When in doubt, do not drive your car into water during a flood. It is almost impossible to accurately judge how fast the water is moving and how deep it is under the murky surface that you see. A majority of fatalities during floods occur because of automobile related incidents during a flood.

If moving water has the power to float a car away, imagine what it can do to you. Never try to wade through flooded areas. Just six inches of water can be enough to pull you off balance and push you downstream. The momentum of flood waters, even at very unassuming and seemingly low levels, is not to be underestimated.

During a flood, seek out the highest ground you can find. You will not be able to outrun the flood if you already see it coming. Instead, think up and not away.

2. Damage Dealt

Lives are, of course, the most valuable asset to protect during a disaster. However, the property damage and disruption of life that are caused by flooding is not to be overlooked. Just a few inches of water in your home or business can cost you thousands of dollars. It basically ruins anything that is touching the ground. A few inches will ruin all furniture, flooring, walls and doors, objects stored in low cabinets, items on the floor of closets, any outdoor belongings and storage, the list goes on. If you have time to prepare for a flood, it would therefore be beneficial to move any valuable furniture or items to higher levels of the building, if possible.

In more serious cases, flooding can rip down walls and devastate entire blocks of property. In Protect America’s hometown of Austin, a flash flood recently swept through the city, causing a staggering amount of damage and life disruption for those who were stranded in their homes.Here is some footage from the historic Shoal Creek Saloon for an idea of how much damage floods can cause.

3. After the Flood

The damage and danger of flooding isn’t over once the water drains away. Flood waters are often contaminated with sewage, pesticides, and dangerous mixtures of bacteria—at the very least. Depending on what the water swept along, many dangerous chemical combinations may have been spread throughout the area. Furniture that has been touched by the flood waters will bloom with dangerous mold soon after the water is gone. Bodies of water within the area will be contaminated and unsafe to touch or swim in for a long time, depending on the drainage rate and contamination levels. Make sure to wash down and thoroughly clean anything that has been touched by the flood waters before using them again.

Residents Cleaning up After Flood

Shari Verneer and Jay Morehead load flood damaged household items onto a trailer they are taking to the dump.

4. The Worst US Flood in History

In 1900, Galveston, Texas was hit by the worst flood the United States has ever seen. A category 4 hurricane swept through with 145 mph winds. It is still considered the deadliest flood, with 8,000 people killed. It cause tens of millions of dollars in damage and displaced entire towns of people.

 Three young men inside ruins of church, following a violent hurricane which devastated Galveston and took more than 5,000 lives.

Galveston disaster, interior St. Patrick’s church. (Creator: Zahner, M. H.)

Men carrying bodies on stretcher, surrounded by wreckage of the hurricane and flood, Galveston, Texas.

Carrying out bodies just removed from the wreckage, Galveston (Copyright by C. L. Wasson)

5. Flooding is Natural

Flooding is a phenomenon that has always happened and is a part of the ecosystem’s cycles of water. Thus, living near bodies of water or on low-elevation land brings an inherent risk of flooding. Human activities and expansion has lead to the draining of wetlands, which normally act as natural sponges to lessen the flooding, the redirection of waterways, and the introduction of concrete-covered cities. These all make the destruction and power of the flooding increased because the natural earth is not able to soak up the waters.

However, with today’s advanced technology, meteorologists are able to predict the patterns of floods so that preparations can be made in time.

Protect Your Home

Disaster sensors from Protect America are able to detect rising levels of moisture in the air that signal an approaching flood. These sensors will be able to confirm the need of preparation or evacuation according to news media outlets in your local area. Never miss a flood warning again, and feel safe knowing that you have the technology to notify you in your own home.