SPRINGFIELD – A thick snowpack in the upper Midwest combined with the potential for heavy rainfall in March and April could be the recipe for flooding in many parts of Illinois this spring. During National Flood Safety Awareness Week March 14-18, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) and the National Weather Service (NWS) are encouraging Illinois residents to learn more about flooding and what they can do to stay safe.
“There’s a good chance we could see severe flooding in one or more areas of the state this spring,” said IEMA Director Jonathon Monken. “Flooding not only causes damage to property, it can also be deadly. We want to make sure people are aware of the dangers and know how to prepare and stay safe before spring flooding occurs.”
Monken said in addition to promoting public awareness of flood issues, IEMA representatives have begun meeting with local officials in several areas of the state to prepare for potential spring flooding.
Nearly 100 flood-related deaths occur in the U.S. each year. The most dangerous type of flooding is a flash flood. Most flash floods are caused by slow-moving thunderstorms and occur most frequently at night. Many people underestimate the power of water. Six inches of fast-moving water can knock an adult off his or her feet and it only takes 18-24 inches of rushing water to carry away most vehicles, including trucks and SUVs.
“Flood Safety Awareness Week's primary purpose is to increase public knowledge of the dangers of flooding,” said Darrin Hansing, Service Hydrologist with the NWS in Lincoln. “A majority of flood-related fatalities are the result of people driving across flooded roadways. These deaths are preventable. For your safety please remember, ’Turn around, don't drown.’"
Each day during Flood Safety Awareness Week, the NWS in Lincoln will post information on flood-related topics on its website (www.crh.noaa.gov/ilx/). The schedule of topics is:
• Monday (3/14) Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Services (AHPS), which provides important river information and flood forecasts.
• Tuesday (3/15): Turn Around, Don’t Drown, the NWS’ campaign to warn people of the hazards associated with walking or driving a vehicle through flood waters.
• Wednesday (3/16): Flood Terminology, including discussions of watches, warnings and other terms used to warn the public about flood dangers.
• Thursday (3/17): Flood Insurance, focusing on how you can get flood insurance, rate your risk, estimate your premiums, find an agent and more. This information can be found by visiting the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Flood Insurance Program at www.FloodSmart.gov.
• Friday (3/18) Flood Safety and Preparedness, including actions people can take to be prepared when floods threaten.
IEMA and NWS have developed a Severe Weather Preparedness Guide, which includes information about floods as well as tips on what people should do before, during and after a flood. The guide is available on the Ready Illinois website at www.Ready.Illinois.gov or by calling (217) 785-9888.