Florida is vulnerable to flooding at any time of the year. Mostly surrounded by water, the abundant supply of moisture feeds the development of thunderstorms, which may produce heavy rains over a short period of time. When those heavy rains occur, the ground may not be able to absorb all of the rainwater and flooding may result.
Due to the flat ground in portions of the state, floodwaters may sometimes remain in an area for days, weeks or even months. Not all floods are alike. Some floods develop slowly, taking anywhere from a few hours to a few days to have an impact. On the other hand, flash floods happen quickly, sometimes in a matter of minutes.
Flooding Safety Actions
- Be aware of streams, canals and areas that are known to flood so you or your evacuation routes are not cut off.
- Consider purchasing a federal flood insurance policy. Learn more about strengthening your home and about federal flood insurance.
- Do not use food that has come in contact with flood waters.
- If you cannot see the roadway beneath the water, do not drive through it! The water may be deeper than it appears and the road may already be washed away.
- In highly flood-prone areas, keep materials such as sandbags, plywood, plastic sheeting, plastic garbage bags, lumber and shovels on hand.
- Never drive into moving water.
- Never play in flooded areas where hidden sharp objects, electrocution and pollution are serious hazards.
Types of Flooding
- Area Flood - Area floods are long-lived, though not usually life-threatening. Standing water in low-lying areas, such as an open field, is an example of an area flood. Significant agricultural losses and displaced livestock can occur with theses floods. In addition, stagnant water from this type of flooding can serve as a breeding ground for insects and diseases.
- Flash Flood - Flash floods can occur within a few minutes or hours of heavy rainfall or from a dam or levee failure. These floods can destroy structures, down trees, roll boulders, and create new waterways. Rapidly rising water can reach heights of 30 feet or more! Furthermore, flash flood producing rains can also trigger catastrophic mudslides. You may not always have a warning of these sudden and potentially deadly floods.
- River Flood - Low lying areas near rivers, streams, lakes and reservoirs are susceptible to river floods. Some river floods occur seasonally when winter or spring rains fill river basins with too much water too quickly. Other floods can occur from slow-moving low pressure systems. Torrential rains from decaying hurricanes or tropical systems can also produce river floods.
- Urban Flood - Floods can be magnified in urban areas. As land is converted from fields and woodlands to roads and parking lots, it loses it ability to absorb rainfall. Urbanization increases runoff two to six times over what would occur on natural terrain. During periods of urban flooding, streets can become swift moving rivers, while basements can become death traps as they fill with water.