Definition of Flash Floods
A flash flood is a swift flooding of a geomorphic low-lying. Flash floods are caused by heavy rainfalls that are associated with tropical storms, hurricanes and storm. A flash flood can also result from collapse of an ice dam, or debris dam. A sudden heavy and prolonged downpour may also lead to a flashflood. Sometimes human structures can collapse leading to flash floods, such structures may be like man made dams. For example Johnstown floods that took place in 1989. A flashflood is distinguishable from other normal floods by timescale of less than six hours (National Weather Service, 2010).
In every year floods have been responsible for more deaths in the entire United States than any other weather phenomenon. If we reflect on the past thirty years, floods have been found to cause more than 120 fatalities per year. Majority of these deaths have been attributed to flashfloods. In a period of seven years (1997 to 2003), the average number of flash floods recorded each year was nearly three thousand per year (Martin, 2009). Flash floods have continued to be a great killer despite the improvement of flood forecasting by use of better radars and satellite. The national weather service plays the role of detecting hazardous weather so as to warn the general public as well as to advice the people on what to do. They are required to forecast a flashflood and the exact magnitude as well as interpret the findings for local consumption (National Academy of Sciences, 2004).
Flash floods are experienced in an event where a barrier that is holding back water falls rapidly on a dry soil or saturated soil with poor absorption ability. The result is that runoffs collect in the areas that are low lying and swiftly flows downhill. They are most common in dry areas having experienced a recent precipitation even if it’s many miles from the source. There are many people who have died because of underestimating the danger of a flash flood. More than half the deaths caused by flashfloods are people who have been swept in the cars attempting to cross flooded intersections (American Red Cross, et.al., 1992).
Flashfloods in Atlanta Georgia:
Flash floods have been a common occurrence in Atlanta Georgia. Over the years many flashfloods have been reported with diverse magnitudes and effects. The residents of Atlanta Georgia have been exposed to the threats of flash floods some loosing their properties as well as lives. Even without tracing from very far, over the last few years flash floods have been a common phenomenon in this region hence the future may be faced with more flash floods of even higher degree. From 15th to 18th September 2009 rainfall fell upon Atlanta Georgia resulting to a five inches depth. The rain continued to be more intense through 20th to 21st causing flooding in many regions (Timeline, 2009). The grounds could not absorb more water. This has been the order of the day over many years in these regions. As a result there has been massive destruction of property and many lives have lost triggering the need to employ mechanisms that will reduce these impacts (Fleury, 2009).
Prater and Perry and Mileti Principles on Planning and Management of Disasters
It’s incumbent for communities to be prepared for flash floods so that they will not be got by surprise when such occurs. The goal of a sustainable mitigation process is not only top reduce losses but also to build a sustainable local community that has eyes of expanding resiliency to local and even international spheres. In this framework action to reduce risks will be employed consistently with the principles of sustainability. Sustainable hazard mitigation entails six basic components which include: economic vitality, disaster resiliency, environmental quality, inter/ intra generational equality, quality of life and participatory process.
Environmental Quality Maintenance and enhancement practices
Human activities in a given location should not reduce the carrying capacity of the ecology for any of its residents. Those human activities that degrade the natural environment should be replaced with practices that allows for renewal of the natural systems for a definite future. For example in a situation where flash floods are caused by deforestation opening the ground for soil erosion and reducing water absorption ability in the soil the relevant authorities should get involved in reforestation to ensure that the threats are reduced (Meleti, 1999). Any activity that leads to further exposure to flash floods should be stopped forthwith. For example the urban sprawls as well was transportation system that that promote some significant negative impact on the environment and exposing the larger population to the environmental hazards should be improved to ensure the population are protected form all possible environmental hazards.
Maintenance and enhancing peoples’ quality of life
When we talk of a population quality life we refer to many components that may include; healthcare, education, legal rights, employment, protection from disasters and other risks among many other factors. The administrative authorities have a responsibility to protect the citizenly from every natural and artificial risk to their lives. The flash floods destroy buildings, bridges, and other structures used dairy by the people. The government, water service institutions, civil and structural engineering departments and other authorities should ensure that the establishments of these structures are done according the set standards so that even in case a flash flood comes about the people shall be safe from any risk that would have been prevented if the necessary measures were employed (Meleti, 1999). On the same note the local government where flash floods are moist likely to occur should educate the people who reside in these areas how they should overcome flashfloods and the safety precautions to be employed in case of such occurrences.
The government should ensure that the areas that are most vulnerable are fitted with warning or alarm devices to keep the population on toes in case there are threatening flashfloods. These endeavors should not only be informative but also directive; that is incase there is a threatening flashflood within a given area what should the people do. In every vulnerable are there should be clear direction of the closest higher ground so that the people can run to clear direction as to how an individual can get there (Meleti, 1999). All the houses that are within a flashflood vulnerable area should be fitted with alarm devices so that incase the flash floods happens at night the people shall not be caught unaware.
Lindell, Prater and Perry (2007) have pointed out that it’s important for the areas that are most vulnerable to a certain disaster to ensure that forecasting is accurate. This calls for an improvement of the hydro-metrological forecasting as well as early warnings. No matter how minute an early sign may be it should not be withheld; let the people be at least cautious that there is a possible flashflood so that they will be attentive ones it’s verified that it will occur. The people who live or operate within flash flood vulnerable area should be equipped with the basic skills of managing a flashflood. This information should include teaching them study the climatic conditions so that even when they are not within an area where they can access the alarms they can be able to see the early warnings of a possible flash flood and take the necessary precautions. The residents should also be presented with all the relevant information on the most affected areas in case of a flash flood so as to avoid such areas during the known flashfloods seasons.
The meteorological department should map the flash flood prone areas. The government should also equip all the developers and owners of the lands in flash flood prone areas with land-use-plans. This is to ensure that developers and land owners do not establish structures that contravene the local government development plans meant to safeguard an area from flash flood vulnerability. The plans for coping with flash floods should be worked out and disseminated to the inhabitants. Flash floods that involve rocks and mud should be given more special attention for they are likely to be more hazardous than the others.
Community Planning and Preparedness
One of the most key strategies in managing a flash flood and ensuring that a community is safe is providing the community with all the relevant information regarding vulnerability of an area and the history of flash floods in a given area (Newport Beach Fire Department Community Emergency Response Team, Disaster Preparedness, n.d). Even before people establish residential structures in an area they should have all the relevant information to ensure that they factor in the proneness before making nay step.
The community should also establish local information centers so that all the visitors can easily access safety precautions especially during the flash floods seasons (OEP, 2009). There is a need to include all the stake holders in information dissemination and employment of safety measures. The buildings owners should be included so that in case of a threatening flash flood, they will not deny people within that area to secure shelter. The inhabitants also ought to be included so that they will be fully armed and of help in times of such happening preventing pronounced hazards. This is because sometimes it may take many hours before its safe for the people to resume to their normal businesses.
OEP (2009) has pointed out that there are several steps that a community can take in ensuring that they are prepared incase of a flash flood. Such steps may include:
- Before the flood comes about the inhabitants of a given area should know the floods risk areas as well as the elevation areas. One should know their evacuation routs.
- The inhabitants of a vulnerable area should keep their automobiles fueled and have some gasoline in store in case the gas stations are closed for some days after the floods.
- The house’s consumption water should be stored in clean containers for water pipelines may be disconnected for sometime.
- When the flash floods are expected people should store stocks of foods that require less cooking or refrigeration for the power may be cut off.
- First aid supplies should be kept close for easier accessibility incase someone is hurt.
- The NOAA weather radio should be kept ready. One should have battery portable radio incase electricity is interrupted. People should have flashlights at hand also be equipped with emergency cooking equipment.
- The office of emergency preparedness should be equipped with readings on flooding and rainfall. The national water service should ensure that all the people are equipped with the relevant knowledge on disaster management in case of floods.
- The health care institutions should be prepared for emergencies. The ambulances and helicopters for airlifting sufferers should always be set and in place to ensure that flash floods victims are saved in time. The security authorities also need to be prepared to offer their services where such expertise in demanded. Prompt response by all the stakeholders when a flashflood is announced will play a great role in ensuring that disasters are minimized or reduced to zero.
- The system of information flow should be strengthened such that when a flashflood is spotted to be formulation from a distance; within no time all the people shall be informed to avoid disasters.
- There is also a need to develop a disaster framework strategy for the entire nations which is based on each disaster zone.
- National Weather Service, (2010), Definitions of flood and flash flood. http://www.srh.noaa.gov/mrx/hydro/flooddef.php
- American Red Cross, U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Weather Service, Federal Emergency Management Agency, July 1992. A Preparedness Guide to flash floods #1 weather-related killer in the United States http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/brochures/ffbro.htm.
- Fleury, M, (2009). September 2009 Atlanta Georgia Floods: Eight Days of Prolonged Rain Submerged Highways and Neighborhoods. Retrieved on 11th February, 2010 from: http://lighteningstorms.suite101.com/article.cfm/september_2009_atlanta_georgia_floods#ixzz0fDd1In1t
- OEP, Flash Floods and Flooding. retrieved on 11th February, 2010 from http://www.cityofno.com/pg-46-5-flash-floods–flooding.aspx
- Meleti D, 1999 disaster by design: a reassessment of natural hazards in the United States. Washington D.C, Joseph, Henry Press.
- Newport Beach Fire Department Community Emergency Response Team, Disaster Preparedness. Retrieved on 11th February, 2010 from http://www.nbcert.org/DisasterPreparation.htm#CommunityPreparations
- Timeline, (2009). Historical trends of flash floods in Atlantic Georgia. Retrieved on 11th February, 2010 from: http://www.google.com/search?q=history+of+flash+flood+to+Atlanta,+Georgia&hl=en&sa=G&tbs=tl:1&tbo=u&ei=5MtyS5rEFpS34gbQu3TCQ&oi=timeline_result&ct=title&resnum=11&ved=0CC8Q5wIwCg
- Edward Martin (2009-09-24). “USGS Release: Atlanta Flooding Sets New Records”. USGS. Retrieved on 11th February, 2010 from: http://www.usgs.gov/newsroom/article.asp?ID=2316.
- The National Academy of Sciences, (2004), Flash Flood Forecasting Over Complex Terrain. Retrieved on 11th February, 2010 from: http://dels.nas.edu/dels/rpt_briefs/flash_flood_final.pdf
- EHow, (1999). How to Survive the Atlanta, Georgia Floods. Retrieved on 11th February, 2010 from: http://www.ehow.com/how_5450644_survive-atlanta-georgia-floods.html
- Lindell. M, Prater. C, & Perry, W, (2006). Introduction to emergency management.
New Jersey: Wiley.