NEVADA FLOOD AWARENESS
Many of the region’s most devastating floods occur during the winter months. The 1997 New Year’s Flood caused approximately $700 million in damages in Washoe County alone and more than $1 billion in damages across northern Nevada. Washoe, Carson, Douglas, Storey, and Lyon counties were declared federal disaster areas. Experts estimate that another similar flood could cause $2 billion in damages.
FLOOD AWARENESS BASICS
Although we live in a desert environment, we are at risk from three main types of dangerous floods.
People who live in a valley or close to a river may experience main channel flooding. Main channel flooding occurs when water flows over the banks of a river and spreads out onto adjacent areas known as floodplains. This type of flooding typically occurs during large winter storms and/or during spring snowmelt.
People who live in the foothills or mountains may experience alluvial fan flooding or debris flows. Alluvial fan flooding occurs along small streams and desert “washes” that form at the base of steep canyons. Violent flash floods after intense summer thunderstorms are common on alluvial fans. Debris flows are a mix of rocks, sediment and water flowing down steep canyons; these fast-moving slurries have the potential to cause catastrophic damage to anything in their path.
KNOW YOUR RISK
Will you flood? What could you lose? The first step in preparing for flood emergencies is to know your risk.
- Visit FEMA’s website and find out if your home is located within a Flood Hazard Zone.
- Possible flood-related losses include: structural damage (e.g., drywall), damage to possessions like furniture and appliances; and property clean-up costs. Use the FloodTools loss calculator to get an idea of what a flood could cost you.
- Review your homeowner’s insurance policy and be sure you understand what is and what is not covered. Visit fema.gov to learn more about the National Flood Insurance Program. Consider purchasing flood insurance to mitigate your flood risk.
BE PREPARED / TAKE ACTION
Make a kit, have a plan, be prepared! Download our Flood Preparedness Checklist
- Make an emergency kit that includes essentials like food and water (at least a 3-day supply); medicines; personal care items; first aid supplies; warm clothes, rain gear and blankets; tools and safety items. Remember to include essentials for your kids and pets!
- Have a plan for how you and your family will contact one another during an emergency. Update and memorize important phone numbers. Talk to your kids about what to do if flooding occurs. Meet with your neighbors and volunteer to help those with special needs, such as disabled and elderly persons.
- Store extra-special items and important family documents in a weather-safe container and move them to higher ground.
- Clean out leaves and debris from roof gutters and (if applicable) drainage ditches around your home. If necessary, place sandbags to divert floodwaters from critical areas on your property. Check our website for updated sandbag locations.
Stay away from floodwaters!
- Just 6 inches of moving water can knock you off your feet, and one foot of moving water can sweep your vehicle away. Turn Around – Don’t Drown! (National Weather Service)
- Murky, muddy floodwaters can hide washed out sections of roads, debris (including sharp objects), and may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.
- Floodwaters may be contaminated with contain human/animal waste, hazardous chemicals, and harmful bacteria.
- In winter, prolonged exposure to floodwaters can result in hypothermia and cold water drowning.
Visit epa.gov for more safety information.
The Truckee River Flood Management Authority is part of an interagency campaign to raise public awareness of flooding in Nevada and to help businesses and residents better prepare for flood emergencies in order to create flood resilient communities. Visit NevadaFloods.org to learn more about flood risk and preparedness.