How to Keep Yourself Safe During Flash Flooding
ELMIRA, N.Y. (WENY) -- Flash flooding is the second deadliest weather disaster in the United States, sending cars, boulders and even houses downstream with incredibly speed and force. A flash flood is caused by heavy or excessive rainfall in a short period of time, generally less than six hours.
“It is falling so fast that it doesn’t have time to go into the ground causing a lot of runoff water. “said Meteorologist Mitchell Gaines from the Binghamton National Weather Service.
Gaines explained what happens when rain falls so heavily in a short span of time, it has nowhere to go. Water can rise so quickly, it can trap people in their homes, businesses or even cars. We have seen flash flooding happen along with how quickly it arrives like the August 18th flood of 2021.
You don't have to live in a flood zone to be at risk of flash flooding - but the amount of risk depends on where you live. Tim Marshall, emergency manager of Steuben County, says it all boils down to geography.
“We have tall hills and low river valleys. That water that falls on the hill tops must come down the hills into the river valleys,” said Marshall.
How quickly flash flooding can happen depends on how heavy the rain is, how wet the ground is, and the geography of where you live. Many people can be caught off guard if they are not prepared for flash flooding.
Therefore, having an emergency kit and supplies ready ahead of a flash flooding event is critical. It is always best to listen to your local news and government officials for updates on the weather and have an evacuation plan in place ahead of time. Electronics should be charged ahead of time with cash on hand and keep copies of important documents ready for when you need to go.
When traveling, it is important to remember to never drive on a road covered in water. Just remember the saying “Turn around, don’t drown.” It is never safe to drive through water covered roads as there could be unseen sinkholes or the road is completely washed away. During flash floods, most deaths are caused by people driving through flood waters.
Even though flash flooding happens rapidly, the recovery after the water recedes could take much longer. Meaning it could take anywhere from hours to days to weeks to months and even years to recover.
In Steuben County, communities like Woodhull are still recovering from the flash flooding in August of 2021. Students are the Jasper-Troupsburg High School have spent the last two school years traveling to a nearby district after flooding heavily damaged the school.
WENY News tried to reach out to the school for updates about the recovery of the building, and was told they are working on repairs.