Prev  |  Next

Prepare for Floods and Flash Floods

GEMA’s Ready Georgia campaign offers tips to help residents stay safe during Severe Weather Awareness Week

(ATLANTA) – Floods are the No. 1 severe weather-related killer in the United States. In Georgia, they are No. 2, according to the National Weather Service (NWS). Many communities experienced severe flooding in 2009 caused by rains and heavy thunderstorms in the spring and fall. Hundreds of homes and businesses were damaged or destroyed, and ten people lost their lives.

Floods can be slow or fast rising but generally develop over a period of days. Flash floods usually result from intense storms dropping large amounts of rain within a brief period. They occur with little or no warning and can reach full peak in only a few minutes. Neighborhoods located in low-lying areas are particularly at risk for flooding. However, those near bodies of water or downstream from a dam also are vulnerable.

Nearly half of all flood-related deaths occur when people drive into floodwaters and their vehicle is swept away. Turning around instead of driving through the flooded area can prevent most of these fatalities. It is difficult to determine how deep the water is or the condition of the road when it is flooded, particularly at night, when vision is limited. Few people realize that only 6 inches of water can knock over an adult and a mere 2 feet of water can sweep away most vehicles.

Friday, Feb. 10 is Flood Safety Day. Governor Nathan Deal, the Georgia Emergency Management Agency/Homeland Security (GEMA), and NWS encourage residents to learn how to prepare for and respond to floods. Below is some information to help you develop a plan and be ready to act before a flood or flash flood threatens you or your family:

Know What to Expect

  • Know your area's flood risk -- if you are unsure, call your local emergency management agency office or planning and zoning department, or visit
  • If it has rained hard for several hours or rained steadily for several days, prepare for the possibility of flooding.
  • Monitor NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for the latest weather forecasts, or download the Ready Georgia mobile app.

Reduce Potential Flood Damage By

  • Avoid building or buying a home in a floodplain.
  • Raising your furnace, water heater, and electric panel if they are in areas of your home that may be flooded.
  • Consulting a professional for further information about damage reduction measures that you can implement.

Floods Can Take Several Hours or Days to Develop

  • A flood WATCH means a flood is possible in your area.
  • A flood WARNING means flooding is already occurring or will occur soon in your area.

Flash Floods Can Take Only a Few Minutes or a Few Hours to Develop

  • A flash flood WATCH means flash flooding is possible in your area.
  • A flash flood WARNING means a flash flood is occurring or will occur very soon.

Prepare a Family Disaster Plan

  • Check to see if you need flood insurance. Visit to learn more about your risk and the National Flood Insurance Program.
  • Keep insurance policies, documents, and other valuables in a safe deposit box.
  • Make an evacuation plan. Decide in advance where you will go – you may choose a hotel, or stay with family or friends -- and what route you will use to get there. Determine an alternative route in case roads are blocked.
  • Your family might not be together when disaster strikes, so plan how you will reconnect. Choose a meeting place outside of your neighborhood in case your family is apart and unable to return home due to flooded roads.
  • Determine an out-of-town contact. It may be easier to text or call long distance if local phone lines are overloaded or out of service. Everyone should have emergency contact information in writing or programmed into their cell phones.
  • Keep a car, hand-crank or solar charger to charge cell phones when the power goes out.
  • If you do not have a cell phone, keep a prepaid phone card.
  • Plan ahead for your pets. Shelters cannot accept pets due to health reasons, so it’s important to find a pet-friendly hotel or make arrangements with family or friends in advance.

Assemble a Ready kit that includes:

  • First aid kit and essential medications.
  • Canned food and can opener.
  • At least one gallon of water per person per day.
  • Protective clothing, rainwear, and bedding or sleeping bags.
  • Battery-powered radio, flashlight, and extra batteries.
  • Items for infants.
  • Special items for elderly or disabled family members, such as extra eyeglasses, medications, insurance information and items for service dogs.
  • Written instructions for how to turn off electricity, gas and water if authorities advise you to do so. (Remember, you'll need a professional to turn them back on.)

When a Flood WATCH is Issued

  • Move your furniture and valuables to higher floors of your home.
  • Fill your car's gas tank, in case an evacuation notice is issued.

When a Flood WARNING is Issued

  • Closely monitor NOAA Weather Radio, local radio or television for the latest weather forecasts.
  • If told to evacuate, do so immediately!

When a Flash Flood WATCH is Issued

  • Be alert to signs of flash flooding and be ready to evacuate on a moment's notice.

When a Flash Flood WARNING is Issued

  • If you think flooding has begun, evacuate immediately. You may have only seconds to escape. Act quickly!
  • Move to higher ground away from rivers, streams, creeks, and storm drains. Do not drive through or around barricades … they are there for your safety.
  • If your car stalls in rapidly rising waters, abandon it immediately and climb to higher ground.

To help families prepare, Ready Georgia, a statewide emergency preparedness campaign established by GEMA offers the tools needed to make an emergency supply kit, develop a communications plan and stay informed about potential threats. Visitors to Ready Georgia’s website,, can create an online profile to receive a tailored plan for the entire family that includes the specific amount of supplies to put in their household Ready kits. They can also find local emergency contact information, learn about Georgia-specific disasters and read preparedness testimonials from local sports stars. Children’s games and activities can be found on the ReadyKids page, and households with elderly or disabled family members and pets will also find specific information on preparing for severe weather. For preparedness on the go, families can also download Ready Georgia’s free mobile app to learn how to prepare for emergencies, create family communications plans and more.

For more information on how to prepare for severe weather, visit these websites:,, For more information about specific risks in your area, contact your local emergency management agency.

# # #

About Ready Georgia

Ready Georgia is a statewide campaign designed to educate and empower Georgians to prepare for and respond to natural disasters, pandemic outbreaks, potential terrorist attacks and other large-scale emergencies. The campaign is a project of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency/Homeland Security and provides a local dimension to Ready America, a broader national campaign. Ready Georgia aims to prepare citizens for maintaining self-sufficiency for at least 72 hours following an emergency, and uses an interactive website, free mobile app, broadcast and print advertising and public awareness media messaging to reach its audiences. Ready Georgia is also on Facebook and YouTube.

Watch Ready Videos

Action! Learn how to prepare for the unexpected. Our videos show you what it takes.

What's In Their Ready Kit?

We talked to notable Georgians to see just how prepared they are.

Customize Your Kit

Create your Customized Ready Plan today. You can also use our checklist.

Act Locally

What's going on in your community? Find out who to call. Host your own Ready event.

Watch Ready Videos

Action! Learn how to prepare for the unexpected. Our videos show you what it takes.

Customize Your Kit

Create your Customized Ready Plan today. You can also use our checklist.

Act Locally

What's going on in your community? Find out who to call. Host your own Ready event.


Hey Kids! Check out our pages just for you. Test your Ready IQ with fun games too!