In the United States, you’re more likely to experience a flood than any other natural emergency. It’s the country’s most common natural disaster, and many people don’t realize they’re at risk until it’s too late.

For those who don’t think massive floods happen where they live, it takes only six inches of flood water to knock a grown man off his feet, and two feet of floodwater to sweep away an SUV. Small floods can cause massive damage to homes, sweep a vehicle away, or even take a life.

This guide will explain how a flood happens, how to prepare for this type of disaster, and how to act if it happens in your area.

What Causes Flooding?

Flooding is caused by a number of things and typically occurs when the ground is saturated to the point that it can no longer absorb more water. Water then rushes over banks and down streets, becoming a force that can be destructive and deadly.

Here are some of the ways floods are caused:

  • Heavy rains that last anywhere from a few hours to a few days saturate the ground so much that water has nowhere to go.
  • Waterways – like streams, rivers and lakes – cannot contain rain and/or snowmelt, resulting in overflow.
  • Waterways become blocked with debris or ice, water backs up and diverts its path, often flooding the nearby banks.
  • Water systems break, including levees and dams, as well as sewer and public water systems.
  • Storm surges push seawater onto land, flooding coastal areas and beyond.

Is Your Home at Risk for Flooding?

Unless you live on top of a mountain, you’re at risk for some level of flooding – even if it’s minimal. Although it’s human nature to want to live near water, doing so makes you more prone to flood risk. Those most prone to flooding live near waterways like streams and rivers, along the coast, and downriver from a dam or levee.

Certain areas of the country have specific seasons when they’re more at risk:

  • Coastal Regions: From June through November, coastal areas have a higher risk of flooding due to hurricane season.
  • Midwest: Spring and summer rains become heavy and may cause flooding in the Midwest.
  • Northeast and Northwest: These areas are more at risk to flooding during the winter months or early spring, when ice jams divert water flow or when rivers and streams overflow from snowmelt.
  • Southwest: Late summer is the highest risk of flooding for those in the Southwest because of monsoon season.

Continue reading Flooding Preparedness: A Guide to Flood Survival at