Spring Flooding Can Be Dangerous, Costly — Even Deadly

March 1, 2017  //  

RICHMOND, Va. — Flooding is one of the major threats facing Virginia annually. According to the National Weather Service, there were 176 flood fatalities in the United States and flooding caused approximately $1.8 billion in damages in 2015.

The Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) has joined the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to support March as Flood Safety Awareness Month. The spring and summer months are often flood season in the Commonwealth.

“Virginians are subject to flooding damage throughout the Commonwealth,” said Secretary of Public Safety and Chief Resilience Officer Brian Moran. “This is not only a public safety issue, but a financial threat for homeowners when they realize their homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage. Virginians should think ahead and ensure they have appropriate plans for their family, homes and property in the event of flooding, including getting flood insurance under the National Flood Insurance Program.”

“Since flooding is a statewide hazard, Virginians should learn how to keep their families and property safe before the waters begin to rise,” said State Coordinator of Emergency Management Dr. Jeff Stern. We must all work together to ensure we can withstand flooding events from coastal storm surge to spring mountain runoff.”

Virginians can find more information about keeping your family and home safe this flooding season by visiting http://www.vaemergency.gov/prepare-recover/threat/floods/. Below are some quick tips.

What You Need to know

  • Floods are one of the most common hazards in the United States but not all floods are alike. Some floods develop slowly, while others, such as flash floods, can develop in just a few minutes and without visible signs of rain.
  • Flooding is a nationwide hazard, so it’s important for everyone to understand their risk, take action, and prepare.
  • 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.


  • Listen to local TV or radio for weather watches and warnings.
  • Do you know the difference in these terms? Learn them so you know the level of risk you face.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • Be ready to evacuate. Don’t return to your home until local officials say it is safe. Use common sense and caution.


  • The Virginia Department of Transportation offers the latest road reports and closures during a major flooding event. Know the road conditions before you leave.
  • Check 511Virginia.org, or call 511 for real-time traffic information and road conditions.
  • Remember, “Turn Around, Don’t Drown.” 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.


  • Homeowner’s insurance does not cover flood damage. About 25 percent of all flood claims come from outside of the floodplain, 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.

The Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) works with local government, state and federal agencies and voluntary organizations to provide resources and expertise through the five mission areas of emergency management; prevention, protection, mitigation, response and recovery. To learn more, visit vaemergency.gov.

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Virginia Department of Emergency Management
Jeff Caldwell
(804) 897-9730

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Be ready. Be willing to help.

Virginia Disaster Relief Fund