A Real Flood Disaster Crisis
With seconds left before a disaster in the midst of a flood, David Phung made a daring decision. He jumped out of the safety of his boat and onto the roof of a Mazda Miata that was rapidly sinking into a swirl of muddy brown floodwater. Using his bare hands, he ripped the roof open just in time to pull a drowning woman from her car, and then he went back to save her dog.  David’s heroism saved the woman’s life and was a striking example of the kind of spirit American’s are known for when it comes to helping their neighbor.
Watching the video of this rescue during a recent flood in Louisiana triggered all sorts of alarms in my mind. First off, why was this woman driving around in a Mazda Miata, which is not well known for their water crossing abilities, during a flooding situation? Why was she unable to free herself from a manually operated roof that had both release snaps well within her reach? Her willingness to put herself in an extremely dangerous situation without proper understanding of her own equipment would have led to certain death without other people stepping in at their own risk to save her.
What should she have done differently? What can we learn from the recent string of devastating floods that have struck the U.S. and Canada? How do we incorporate flood awareness into our preparations and plans? This article seeks to address these questions and help the readers of SurvivalBlog prepare for a flood.
Why Prepare for a Flood?
For many preppers, the idea of water damage is very low on the list of priorities. Mutant zombie bikers, EMP’s, and martial law are all far more glamorous and motivating than, essentially, an overflowing riverbank. But for some of us, the odds of this personal disaster are much higher than the odds of a full out societal breakdown.
Flooding in the U.S. has caused tens of billions of dollars of damage in this decade alone. The single event of Hurricane Katrina caused $108 billion dollars of destruction . And while the astronomical numbers show a portion of the scale of devastation, flooding destroys more than dollars. Rising waters frequently claim lives and property. And while houses may appear to still be standing after the waters recede, the onset of mold and rapid decay often result in a total loss in slow motion. With such a high cost to this type of disaster, it is worth taking the time to see if any of the risks can be avoided with preparation.
Managing the Risk
For this article, we are going to use a common three step process for managing a future uncertainty , applied specifically to the topic of floods. These steps are:
1. Risk Identification
2. Risk Response Planning
3. Risk Monitoring
Let’s get started.
Step 1: Risk Identification
Before we go further, you need to understand whether flooding is something you need to be thinking about. How do you identify if you are at risk? Here are a couple of strategies.
- Past experience.Have you ever had flooding before in your neighborhood or at your house? Obviously, this is a great predictor of a future flood risk. If something happened before, it can happen again. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you have 100 more years until that next 100-year flood hits. That statistic simply means that you have a 1% chance of a flood that size happening every year.
- Proximity to water.Is your house located near a stream, river, lake, or ocean? Even if a river has never jumped its bank as long as your grandparents can remember, that doesn’t mean the next 100-year or 1000-year flood isn’t scheduled for this year.
- Insurance flood maps.While there has been much dispute over the recent increase in predicted flood areas based on insurance mapping changes, if you are required to purchase flood insurance for your home or it is recommended, then someone who makes a living off of flood prediction has identified your area as a risk. While this many not necessarily mean that your property is at high risk (say you are on top of a hill in an otherwise low-lying area), it may mean that your area as a whole may be at risk. If there is flooding, while your property may survive, you can expect extensive damage to the surrounding infrastructure and community that could otherwise negatively impact you.If you have identified that you need to add flood preparation to your list of things to do, read on. I still recommend reading this because there should be a fair amount of overlap with what you are already doing for preps, and it couldn’t hurt to have an understanding of some additional uses for your same materials.
Step 2: Risk Response Planning
If you are still with me here, then you have either identified that your residence or geographic area is at risk of a flooding event, would like to know what to look out for when planning a future move, or are just curious as to how to plan for this sort of risk.
Let’s take a look at five different risk response strategies. These are: Accept, Avoid, Transfer, Mitigate, and Exploit. For anyone familiar with structured risk management strategies, you have heard these terms before and know that they can be applied to preparing for most uncertainties.
Strategy 1: Accept.
You know floods can happen. You decide that you will do something about it if you need to, but it doesn’t warrant any sort of action or thought now on your part. Is this a good strategy? No! Hopefully, you realize now that being a sheep who follows the herd isn’t why you read SurvivalBlog and prep. Simply acknowledging the risk is not preparation. Let’s move into a risk management strategy more fitting to your temperament.
Strategy 2: Avoid.
Avoidance is one of the absolute best risk reduction strategies there is, for any negative risk. It is much better to avoid a fight than to be forced into one. How do we avoid a flood? It’s simple; don’t live where it can flood. Now, obviously, this is difficult for many people to do. Many areas of the country are basically giant flood plains. But some areas are at significantly higher risk than others. Would investing in a property right next to a levee in Katrina seem like a good avoidance strategy? No.
That cute little stream behind the house you are looking at in Colorado may seem great in the pictures, but how high is it expected to rise in a 100-year flood event? While the fertile ground around the farmhouse may appear perfect for your homestead garden, do you realize that it is only fertile because it is in the overflow plain for the river that is a half mile away?
If you currently live in a flood prone area, your best risk avoidance strategy is to move.
When you are looking for a place to relocate or retreat to, make sure you check flood maps, flood insurance requirements, and the history of flood events in the area. If there is a risk there, don’t take it. Flooding may be only superseded by fire for the pure devastation it can inflict on your preps and plans.
Strategy 3: Transfer.
Transference of risk is a common strategy that actually does have a fair amount of merit. Instead of having our own fire pump station, most of us transfer that responsibility to the fire department. Instead of monitoring the shady sections of town ourselves, we have a designated police force paid to do the work.
While it may sound un-independent, transferring risk in flooding should actually be a core part of your strategy. The number one risk transference mechanism here is flood insurance. In some high-risk areas, you may be required to purchase this service in order to have a home. In many other areas, it is optional. If you live somewhere that has historically flooded before, take a good hard look at whether you should add this service to your preps. There is no need to suffer a TEOTWAWKI event while the rest of the world simply waits for an insurance check and then rebuilds.
Another transference strategy is in the form of government managed flood control. Levees and overflow containment runways are good examples of this. While in many instances these programs do a good job of taking up the risk to communities, they can also fail. And when they do fail, it can be catastrophic. The levee failures during Hurricane Katrina are a prime example. Just in May of this year three dikes failed in Montreal leading to widespread flooding .
This ends part one of this article series. Tomorrow, we will look at the fourth risk response strategy– mitigation.
SurvivalBlog Writing Contest
This has been part 1 of a three part entry for Round 71 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:
- A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
- A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,195 value),
- A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
- DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
- An infrared sensor/imaging camouflage shelter from Snakebite Tactical in Eureka, Montana (A $350+ value),
- Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
- A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
- Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).
- A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
- A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
- A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
- A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
- A Trekker IV™ Four-Person Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $250 value),
- A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by PrepperPress.com,
- A pre-selected assortment of military surplus gear from CJL Enterprize (a $300 value),
- RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site, and
- American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.
- A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
- A custom made Sage Grouse model utility/field knife from custom knife-maker Jon Kelly Designs, of Eureka, Montana,
- A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
- Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
- Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
- Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances,
- Montie Gear is donating a Y-Shot Slingshot and a $125 Montie gear Gift certificate.,
- Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value), and
Round 71 ends on July 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.