Flood Safety for Citizens

Floods are very common in all regions of Kansas, with most communities experiencing some kind of flooding after spring rains, heavy thunderstorms, or winter snow thaws. However, some areas are more susceptible. Communities particularly at risk are those located in low-lying areas, near water, or downstream from a dam.

Flood waters can be extremely dangerous. The force of just six inches of swiftly moving water can knock people off their feet. Cars (including SUVs and pick-ups) can be swept away in just two feet of moving water. Stay away from flood waters, storm drains, and sewers - you can be sucked down a drainage tube! Flash flood waters move at a very high rate of speed and can roll boulders, tear out trees, destroy buildings, and wash out bridges. Walls of water can reach heights of 10 to 20 feet and generally are accompanied by a deadly cargo of debris. The best protection during a flood is to leave the area or your car and shelter on higher ground.

Know Your Terms From the National Weather Service

  • Flood: Any high flow, overflow, or inundation by water which causes or threatens damage.
  • Flash Flood: A rapid and extreme flow of high water into a normally dry area, or a rapid water level rise in a stream or creek above a predetermined flood level, beginning within six hours of the causative event(i.e. intense rainfall, dam failure, ice jam). However, the actual time threshold may vary in different parts of the country. Ongoing flooding can intensify to flash flooding in cases where intense rainfall results in a rapid surge of rising flood waters.
  • Flash Flood Watch: Issued to indicate current or developing hydrologic conditions that are favorable for flash flooding in and close to the watch area, but the occurrence is neither certain or imminent.
  • Flash Flood Warning: Issued to inform the public, emergency management and other cooperating agencies that flash flooding is in progress, imminent, or highly likely.
  • Flood Watch: Issued to inform the public and cooperating agencies that current and developing hydrometeorological conditions are such that there is a threat of flooding, but the occurrence in neither certain or imminent.
  • Flood Warning: In hydrological terms, a release by the NWS to inform the public of flooding along larger streams in which there is a serious threat to life or property. A flood warning will usually contain river stage (level) forecasts.

Flood Severity Categories From the National Weather Service

  • Minor: Minimal or no property damage, but possibly some public threat or inconvenience;
  • Moderate: Some inundation of structures and roads near streams. Some evacuations of people and/or transfer of property to higher elevations;
  • Major: Extensive inundation of structures and roads. Significant evacuations of people and/or transfer of property to higher elevations.

Prepare for a Flood

  • Know your risk. Check the frequency of flooding in your area by contacting your local floodplain administrator;
  • Reduce potential flood damage by raising your furnace, hot water heater, and electrical panel;
  • Prepare a family disaster kit;
  • Check your insurance policy to see if you have a policy that covers flooding;
  • Keep insurance policies, important documents, birth certificates, marriage licenses, and other valuables either in a safe deposit box or a waterproof safe;
  • Listen to local radio and/or TV stations or NOAA weather for information and advice;
  • Be alert for signs of flash flooding;
  • Make sure your car has a full tank of gas;
  • Check on neighbors that are elderly and/or disabled.

Are you in a flood plain? Check our GIS Map to find out.