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 mobile.

VDEM Ready Virginia Mobile App

Prepare for any type of emergency situation. Find out about disasters in advance with local weather and public health alerts. Locate hurricane evacuation routes and nearby open shelters. Preparing for disasters is one of the most important things you can do for the safety of you and your family. The Ready Virginia app provides you with up-to-the-minute information that affects every Virginian.

Ready VA Mobile