Colorado and North Dakota’s Natural Floods: Raising Awareness and Preparedness

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Daily Stream Flow Conditions and Current Flooding Areas. Image by USGS

Daily Stream Flow Conditions and Current Flooding Areas. Image by USGS

Floods are Terrifying

As Environment Canada puts it, “A flood can be a terrifying disaster. People forced from their homes, their property destroyed, business disrupted industry closed down, crops ruined, roads washed out, railway links severed, and all too often, human lives lost.”

Most disturbing, however, are the psychological effects. “On April 15, 1987, after the Perth-Andover flood,” reports Environment Canada, “the Emergency Measures Organization opened a Disaster Assistance Office, where victims could register and apply for assistance. The emergency measures officials discovered that some victims were so distraught they could not fill out forms.

Floods: Warnings and Protection

A Flood Warning or Flood Watch is generally issued to warn of the flood potential of rivers and major streams. People living, working, or traveling on the floodplain- the bordering plain- of a river or large stream are well advised to heed river levels and forecasts. In the U.S. warnings are issued by state Emergency Operations Centers.

The USGS assists the effort with “a series of sequential maps that help communicate where flooding may occur over a range of river levels. The library can be connected to real-time and forecasted river levels at USGS stream gauges to help communities identify immediate risks during a flood.” And recently Google has begun to produce Disaster Crisis Response maps.

Prepare for Flooding

Although flash floods happen quickly, keep your eye on the news and heed watches, warnings, and evacuation orders. A flood can be devastating – let it devastate your property, not your family.

Sample Hydrograph and Flood Stage Inundation Maps. Image by USGS.

Sample Hydrograph and Flood Stage Inundation Maps. Image by USGS

Resources

Bucknell University. Flooding Tips and Precautions. Accessed September 17, 2013.

Choudhury, P. and Sankarasubramanian, A. River Flood Forecasting Using Complementary Muskingum Rating Equations. (2009). Accessed September 17, 2013.

CTV Atlantic. Perth-Andover in State of Emergency Due to Flooding. (2012). Accessed September 17, 2013.

Erdman, John. The Colorado Flash Floods: How It happened, How Unusual? (2013). Accessed September 17, 2013.

Moore, W.G.  A Dictionary of Geography. Penguin Reference Books. (1963). Baltimore.

NASA. The Red River Flood Plain. (2009). Accessed September 17, 2013.

NOAA. Advance Hydrologic Prediction Service. (2013). Accessed September 17, 2013.

Rice, Doyle. What Caused Deadly Colorado Floods? (2013). Accessed September 17, 2013.

Susquehanna Flood Forecast and Warning System. Types of Flooding. Accessed September 17, 2013.

USGS. Current Water Data for the Nation. Accessed September 17, 2013.

USGS. Flood Inundation Mapping Science. Accessed September 17, 2013.

USGS. Flood Inundation Mapper. Accessed September 17, 2013.

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