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Midwest Regional Climate CenterHosted by the
Midwestern
Regional
Climate Center

Flood Awareness - Risk

Understanding Floods | Floodplain Mapping | Flood Insurance | Finding Local Information

Floods are one of the most common hazards in the United States and are the top weather-related killer after heat. On average, flooding claims the lives of about 100 people annually. Most victims are in their cars. Be aware of flood hazards no matter where you live or work, but especially if you are in low-lying areas, near water, behind a levee or downstream from a dam. Even very small streams, gullies, creeks, culverts, dry streambeds or low-lying ground that appear harmless in dry weather can flood.

Weather Related Fatalities 1940-2011

In the Ohio Valley and the Northeast, flooding can occur at any time of the year. However, the greatest threat of flooding typically occurs in the spring when heavy rains and snowmelt can combine to produce excessive runoff. Some floods develop slowly while others, such as flash floods, can develop in just a few minutes. Additionally, floods can be local, impacting a neighborhood or community, or very large, affecting entire river basins and multiple states.

2011 Flood fatalities by activity

Flash floods can occur within a few minutes or hours of excessive rainfall, a dam or levee failure, or a sudden release of water held by an ice jam. Flash floods often have a dangerous wall of roaring water carrying rocks, mud and other debris.

Overland flooding, the most common type of flooding event, typically occurs when waterways such as rivers or streams overflow their banks as a result of rainwater or a possible levee breach and cause flooding in surrounding areas. It can also occur when rainfall or snowmelt exceeds the capacity of underground pipes, or exceeds the capacity of streets and drains designed to carry floodwater away from urban areas.

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Below are links from various agengies that can help you understand and learn more about your flood risk:

Understanding Floods

What are the types of floods and what is a 1% flood?*

(*formerly referred to as a 100-year flood)

What benefits do floodplains provide?
What types of floods are there?
Where can I learn more about floods and weather?
How are floods forecasted?

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Floodplain Mapping
Is my property in a floodplain?
What are the differences between floodways and floodplains?
How are floodplain maps changed?
How do you read a floodplain map?

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Flood Insurance
How can my community reduce flood insurance rates?
Do I need flood insurance?
Where can I get information on flood insurance rates?
How do I find an insurance agent?

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Finding Local Information
How do I get in contact with my local Emergency Management Agency (EMA)?
Where can I get local flood information?
Where can I see current stream and river levels for my area?
Where can I see historical stream and river levels for my area?
Are there any apps for my SmartPhone or other mobile devices?

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