The Bay Area’s steep terrain makes the region prone to flash floods when heavy rains hit. In 2014, flash floods resulted in nearly $2.5 billion worth of property damage (nearly double the damage done by hail, which is the second most destructive extreme weather event). Of more concern, flash floods are a leading cause of weather-related injuries and fatalities.
Here’s how to stay safe during a flash flood:
Turn Around Don’t Drown®
As many as two out of three flood-related deaths occur in vehicles. According to FEMA:
- Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars, causing loss of control and potential stalling.
- One foot of water will float many vehicles.
- Two feet of rushing water will carry away most vehicles, including SUVs and pickups.
If your car stalls in a flash flood, abandon it immediately and climb to higher ground.
Evacuate your home immediately if you think you’re at risk or have been advised to do so.
If you have time, shut off water, gas and electrical services before leaving. If you’ve been told to evacuate, text SHELTER plus your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (example: SHELTER 94954).
Never try to walk or swim through running water.
Water that’s just 6 inches deep can knock over an adult. Don’t try to outrun a flash flood—immediately head to higher ground if rushing waters are coming your way.
Listen to local radio, subscribe to email and SMS weather alerts from the National Weather Service, and talk to neighbors to stay informed about the current situation.