Global & Disaster Medicine

Archive for the ‘Flood’ Category

A dam in northwestern Puerto Rico suffered structural damage on Friday prompting the evacuation of 70,000 nearby in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

NY Times


MCI at a nursing home in Florida

NY Times

“….Judy Frum, the chief nursing officer at the air conditioned hospital just across the street from the rehabilitation center, was working in the Irma command center when the emergency room notified her that three patients had been brought in from the nursing home.

“It set off a red flag that something might be going on,” said Frum, who grabbed a colleague and hurried across the street.

When they arrived, paramedics were treating a critically ill patient near the entrance. She saw harried staff members trying to get patients into a room where fans were blowing.

The center had some electricity, but not enough to power the air conditioning.

Frum called her facility, Memorial Regional Hospital, to issue a mass casualty alert. As many as 100 hospital employees rushed over to help….”


Houston: Why do so few people buy flood insurance?


“….here are multiple reasons why homeowners do not buy flood insurance voluntarily. Research has shown that people tend to ignore low-probability risks. People may also expect government assistance. And some people think that they have flood insurance when they do not. Our recent work in New York City found that 16 percent of homeowners who thought they had flood insurance actually did not—and that is in an area that recently experienced massive flooding. Finally, some households may find it difficult to afford flood insurance. We found that the purchase of flood insurance is financially burdensome for a quarter of homeowners in the high-risk flood zones in New York City….”


Irma turned the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills into a living hell. Was it a tragic error or was it criminal?

Miami Herald

Bobby Owens, 84;

Manuel Mario Mendieta, 96;

Miguel Antonio Franco, 92;

Estella Hendricks, 71;

Gail Nova, 71;

Carolyn Eatherly, 78;

Betty Hibbard, 84;

Albertina Vega, 99.

“…..yet to be determined is how long these vulnerable people — either residents or recovering from surgery — were left in such stifling heat and, most important, why…..

The eight nursing-home residents who died were not the only seniors trapped by sketchy planning. In Miami Dade, WLRN reporter Nadege Green found elderly residents in a series of Coconut Grove senior-living apartments who remained trapped, no elevator, no electricity; on Tuesday, about 50 residents of a senior-citizens tower in Miami’s Civic Center neighborhood damaged by Irma were being taken to a shelter…..”


Powerful waves and storm surge from Hurricane Irma topped Havana’s iconic Malecon seawall and left thousands of homes, businesses and hotels swamped Sunday

Denver Post


NWS: What is the difference between a Flood Watch and a Flood Warning?

What is the difference between a Flood Watch and a Flood Warning issued by the National Weather Service?

  • Flash Flood Warning: Take Action! A Flash Flood Warning is issued when a flash flood is imminent or occurring. If you are in a flood prone area move immediately to high ground. A flash flood is a sudden violent flood that can take from minutes to hours to develop. It is even possible to experience a flash flood in areas not immediately receiving rain.
  • Flood Warning: Take Action! A Flood Warning is issued when the hazardous weather event is imminent or already happening. A Flood Warning is issued when flooding is imminent or occurring.
  • Flood Watch: Be Prepared:A Flood Watch is issued when conditions are favorable for a specific hazardous weather event to occur. A Flood Watch is issued when conditions are favorable for flooding. It does not mean flooding will occur, but it is possible.
  • Flood Advisory: Be Aware: An Flood Advisory is issued when a specific weather event that is forecast to occur may become a nuisance. A Flood Advisory is issued when flooding is not expected to be bad enough to issue a warning. However, it may cause significant inconvenience, and if caution is not exercised, it could lead to situations that may threaten life and/or property.

NWS: What to do before the Flood

Create a Communications Plan
It is important to be able to communicate with your family and friends in the event of a disaster. Whether it is having a specific person identified to contact for status updates or a safe location to meet up with family members, having a plan in place will give you peace of mind if disaster does strike.
Assemble an Emergency Kit
It is good practice to have enough food, water and medicine on hand at all times to last you at least 3 days in the case of an emergency. Water service may be interrupted or unsafe to drink and food requiring little cooking and no refrigeration may be needed if electric power is interrupted. You should also have batteries, blankets, flashlights, first aid kit, rubber boots, rubber gloves, and a NOAA Weather Radio or other battery operated radio easily available.
Know Your Risk
Is your home, business or school in a floodplain? Where is water likely to collect on the roadways you most often travel? What is the fastest way to get to higher ground? Knowing the answers to these questions ahead of time can save your life.
Sign Up for Notifications
The Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service provides RSS feeds for observed forecast and alert river conditions to help keep the public informed about local water conditions.
Prepare Your Home
  1. If you have access to sandbags or other materials, use them to protect your home from flood waters if you have sufficient time to do so. Filling sandbags can take more time than you may think.
  2. Have a professional install check-valves in plumbing to prevent flood waters from backing up into the drains of your home. Make sure your sump pump is working and consider having a backup. Make sure your electric circuit breakers, or fuses, are clearly marked for each area of your home.
  3. Since standard homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flooding, ensure coverage by contacting your insurance company or agent to purchase flood insurance. This must be done before there is even a threat of flooding as insurance companies stop issuing policies if there is a threat of flooding. (i.e. an approaching hurricane). Many flood insurance policies take at least 30 days to go into effect so even if you can buy it as a storm is approaching, it may not protect your investment.

Prepare your Family/Pets
You may be evacuated, so pack in advance. Don’t wait until the last moment to gather the essentials for yourself, your family and/or your pets.
Charge Your Essential Electronics
Make sure your cell phone and portable radios are all charged in case you lose power or need to evacuate. Also make sure you have back-up batteries on hand.
If it is likely your home will flood, don’t wait to be ordered to leave; evacuate yourself! Make alternative plans for a place to stay. If you have pets, take them with you or make arrangements to board them at a facility well away from the flooding danger.

NWS: What to do during a Flood

Stay Informed

Monitor local radio and television (including NOAA Weather Radio), internet and social media for information and updates.

Get to Higher Ground

Get out of areas subject to flooding and get to higher ground immediately.

see caption below

Obey Evacuation Orders

If told to evacuate, do so immediately. Be sure to lock your home as you leave. If you have time, disconnect utilities and appliances.

Practice Electrical Safety

Don’t go into a basement, or any room, if water covers the electrical outlets or if cords are submerged. If you see sparks or hear buzzing, crackling, snapping or popping noises –get out! Stay out of water that may have electricity in it!

Avoid Flood waters

Do not walk through flood waters. It only takes six inches of moving water to knock you off your feet. If you are trapped by moving water, move to the highest possible point and call 911 for help.

Do not drive into flooded roadways or around a barricade; Turn Around, Don’t Drown! Water may be deeper than it appears and can hide many hazards (i.e. sharp objects, washed out road surfaces, electrical wires, chemicals, etc). A vehicle caught in swiftly moving water can be swept away in a matter of seconds. Twelve inches of water can float a car or small SUV and 18 inches of water can carry away large vehicles.

NWS: What to do after the Flood

When flood waters recede, the damage left behind can be devastating and present many dangers. Images of flood destruction depict destroyed homes and buildings, damaged possessions, and decimated roadways. However, what you can’t see can be just as dangerous. Floodwaters often become contaminated with sewage or chemicals. Gas leaks and live power lines can be deadly, but are not obvious at first glance.

Stay Informed
Stay tuned to your local news for updated information on road conditions. Ensure water is safe to drink, cook or clean with after a flood. Oftentimes a boil water order is put in place following a flood. Check with utility companies to find out when electricity or gas services may be restored. Carbon monoxide poisoning is one of the leading causes of death after storms when areas are dealing with power outages. Never use a portable generator inside your home or garage. Review generator safety
Avoid Flood Waters

Standing water hides many dangers including toxins and chemicals. There may be debris under the water and the road surface may have been compromised.

Avoid Disaster Areas:  Do not visit disaster areas! Your presence may hamper rescue and other emergency operations.
Heed Road Closed and Cautionary Signs:  Road closure and other cautionary signs are put in place for your safety. Pay attention to them!
Wait for the “All Clear”:  Do not enter a flood damaged home or building until you’re given the all clear by authorities. If you choose to enter a flood damaged building, be extremely careful. Water can compromise the structural integrity and its foundation. Make sure the electrical system has been turned off, otherwise contact the power company or a qualified electrician. Contact your insurance agent as soon as possible to discuss the damage done to your property. If you have a home generator, be sure to follow proper safety procedures for use. You can find generator safety information at:
Contact Your Family and Loved Ones:  Let your family and close friends know that you’re okay so they can help spread the word. Register with or search the American Red Cross’s Safe and Well listings.

NWS: Turn around, don’t drown

Turn Around Don’t Drown®

Each year, more deaths occur due to flooding than from any other thunderstorm related hazard. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that over half of all flood-related drownings occur when a vehicle is driven into hazardous flood water. The next highest percentage of flood-related deaths is due to walking into or near flood waters. People underestimate the force and power of water. Many of the deaths occur in automobiles as they are swept downstream. Of these drownings, many are preventable, but too many people continue to drive around the barriers that warn you the road is flooded. A mere 6 inches of fast-moving flood water can knock over an adult. It takes just 12 inches of rushing water to carry away a small car, while 2 feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles. It is NEVER safe to drive or walk into flood waters.

turn around dont drown sign
Turn Around Don’t Drown® Warning Signs
Yellow Warning Sign

The yellow warning sign, right, “When Flooded, Turn Around Don’t Drown®” complies with Federal Highway Administration (FHA) standards and is intended for deployment as a permanent road sign. Warning signs alert drivers of a possible danger ahead, such as when it may be necessary to slow down and stop, or a road hazard or special situation may be ahead. Details on producing this Turn Around Don’t Drown® warning sign are available here.

The “When Flooded, Turn Around Don’t Drown®” warning sign should be deployed at locations where the incidence of flooding is high, the onset of flooding is rapid, and/or it is not practical to deploy incident signs in a timely manner.

NWS offices are encouraged to work with officials in their local areas in promoting use of this sign to save lives and property.

Warning signs have a black legend (i.e., lettering and outer border) and a yellow background (RGB color 255:208:69 or Pantone 116).  More detailed guidance on use of warning signs can be found in Chapter 2C of the MUTCD

TADD Warning Sign

TADD Warning Sign
Pink Incident Sign

The FHA, with its Letter of Support, has encouraged use of the phrase “Flooding Ahead Turn Around Don’t Drown®” as an official incident management road sign (pink) following FHA specifications. Get details on producing this Turn Around Don’t Drown® incident sign.

Incident management signs are a specific type of Temporary Traffic Control (TTC) sign deployed in response to short-term events which impede the normal flow of traffic such as accidents, natural disasters, hazardous material spills, or other unplanned incidents.  The “Flooding Ahead Turn Around Don’t Drown®” incident management sign is intended for use at locations where stream waters flooding across a road have made passage dangerous.  The location may be a road which dips down to the level of a stream channel or a bridge or culvert which cannot pass high flood flows.

Incident management signs are intended for mounting on temporary sign holders such as the one shown above.  They should not be mounted on construction barricades.

This type of incident sign has a black legend (i.e., lettering and outer border) and a fluorescent pink background (RGB color 255:40:140 or Pantone 232).  More detailed guidance on incident signs can be found in Section 6I in Part 6 of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD).

TADD incident sign


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