Floods

You don’t have to live in a high-risk area to be at risk for floods

Flooding is the nation’s most common natural disaster, particularly for those who live in a low-lying area, near water or downstream from a dam. Even a very small stream or dry creek bed can overflow and create flooding.

Get your family ready for a flood

  • Listen to local TV or radio for weather watches and warnings.
  • Learn the terms:
    • Flood Watch or Flash Flood Watch: there is a possibility of flooding or a flash flood in the next 36 hours.
    • Flood Warning: Issued when a river gauge has exceeded, or is forecast to exceed, a predetermined flood stage.
    • Flash Flood Warning: flash flooding is imminent, generally within the next 1 to 3 hours. Usually issued based on observed heavy rainfall (measured or radar estimated), but may also be issued for significant dam breaks that have occurred or are imminent.
  • Be ready to evacuate. Don’t return to your home until local officials say it is safe. Use common sense and caution.
  • If you see water rising quickly or a moving wall of mud and debris, immediately move to higher ground.
  • Do not walk through moving water. A small amount of moving water can easily knock you down.
  • Remember that after a flood, it could be hours or days before emergency personnel are able to reach you.

Know the road conditions before you leave

  • Do not drive into flooded areas. If your vehicle becomes surrounded by rising water, get out quickly and move to higher ground.
  • Flood water might cut off access to roads. Be ready to stay where you are until floodwaters recede.
  • Know the road conditions before you leave. Check the website, 511 Virginia, or call 511 for real-time traffic information and road conditions.
  • The Virginia Department of Transportation offers the latest road reports and closures during a major flooding event.

Get your home ready for a flood

  • Homeowner’s insurance does not cover flood damage. About 75 percent of flood claims come from low to moderate flood-risk areas, but only 4.3 percent of Virginia homes in those areas are covered by flood insurance. Find out more at FloodSmart.gov.
  • Elevate the furnace, water heater, and electric panel in your home if you live in an area that has a high flood risk.
  • Consider installing check valves to stop floodwater from backing up into the drains of your home.
  • Unplug electrical appliances and move them to higher levels, if possible. Do not touch an electric appliance if you are wet or standing in water.
  • Construct barriers to stop floodwater from entering the building, and seal walls in basements with waterproofing compounds.
  • If time allows, bring in outside furniture and move your valuables to higher places in your home.

Be ready. Be willing to help.

Virginia Disaster Relief Fund