THE BIGGEST AMERICAN FLOOD DISASTERS

Monday, August 11th, 2008

Mr. Prepared Says Floods Can Create Incredible Chaos!

 When we think of the most harmful natural disasters, we tend to concentrate on big storms like hurricanes and tornadoes, or the destructive power of a large, unexpected earthquake or tsunami.  Floods, however, should never be underestimated – and should always be prepared for!

I’m Mr. Prepared, here to talk about just how huge and horrific floods can be.  What’s interesting about floods is almost every other natural disaster can actually lead to flooding.  Hurricanes, of course, can flood areas with their torrential rains, earthquakes can cause levees and dams to fail, and tsunamis obviously bring in a huge wave of water that covers an entire region.

Since 1900, over 10,000 people have lost their lives in flooding in the United States alone.  The once-in-five-hundred-years Midwest floods this past June alone was responsible for thirteen fatalities and caused tens of billions of dollars of damage.  And of course, in 2005, the flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina caused roughly 1500 deaths in the New Orleans area, with over 700 people still reported as missing. 

The biggest, longest and most far-reaching flooding in recent history was the great Mississippi Flood of 1993.  The stage was set for that disaster actually in late 1992, when soil moisture levels were already unusually high.  When spring of 1993 rolled around, rain and the melting snowpack, which normally would have been able to be absorbed into the ground, instead had no place to go – so the extra water just ran off into nearby streams and rivers. 

When storm after storm came calling on the mid and upper Mississippi River from June to August of 1993, launching drenching thunderstorms on the already water-logged area, all the bodies of water just kept on rising.  Some areas received as much as 30 inches of rain during this period – a 200% increase over normal precipitation.  Flooding was inevitable!

The four states hardest hit were Iowa, Illinois, Missouri and Minnesota.  The Mississippi went over 19 feet above the flood stage at St. Louis, beating the old 1973 record by over 6 feet!  Not only that, the river stayed over flood stage for over two months.  In Des Moines, Iowa, the situation was even worse – at one point, the flood took out a major water station and a city of almost 200,000 people was without safe drinking water!

Yes, the figures were staggering.  Of the 1300 levees designed to stop this kind of flooding along the Mississippi, 1000 of them failed!  Over 70,000 folks were displaced by the floods, 50,000 homes were either damaged or ruined completely.

When you read numbers like that, you can see why I go a little crazy about telling people to be prepared.  A flood doesn’t have to be as powerful as the ones I talked about above to completely disrupt your everyday life. 

You should always have an emergency evacuation plan worked out with your family or loved ones, you should find out what the flood risk is in the area you live in, and you should have food and water supplies, in addition to a first aid kit, a generator and other survival gear, stored in a safe place so you can get to it when you need it.  There are lots of other useful tips on my website at www.MrPrepared.com. 

Knowing how to prepare for the worst helps you survive in the best way possible.  Until next time, Be Smart!  Be Safe!  Be Prepared! This is Mr. Prepared, bringing Awareness to Preparedness!