Floods kill an average of 46 people each year in the United States, but severe flooding over the weekend has claimed more than half of that average in just one weather event. In all, at least 24 people have been confirmed as fatalities in the state of West Virginia, and Governor Earl Ray Tomblin declared a state of emergency for many counties. In one of the most shocking videos to come from this tragic event, a clip shows a burning home which was swept off its foundation, floating down the river while still ablaze. Yes, we all know that we need water to live, but every so often, we see the intensely destructive and deadly side of water as well. Here’s what you can do if you or your family encounters the threat of rising flood waters.
1. Stay Alert
Keep an ear cocked to the radio or local TV stations. This can be a great way to stay informed. In low-lying or flood-prone areas, an NOAA weather radio with an alarm might be a life-saver.
**2. Expect Flooding **
This is the most common type of natural disaster worldwide—up to 40 percent of all natural disasters each year are flood-related.
3. Don’t Even Think About It
Don’t try to drive or walk through moving flood waters. Just 2 feet of fast-moving water can sweep away most vehicles—even SUVs and trucks. And it only takes 6 inches of rushing water to knock a person down and sweep them away.
4. Remember: Lives Matter More Than Things
If you only have minutes to get out, don’t waste time gathering up possessions. Most things can be replaced, but lives cannot. Do not wait for instructions to move to higher ground if authorities think flash flooding is possible.
Don’t try to ride it out. If you are told to evacuate, DO IT! And as you go, beware of streams, ditches, drainage channels, canyons, and other low-lying areas. Flash floods can happen in these places far away from the source of the water.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of the families that have been impacted by this unexpected natural disaster.