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|1802 Hill Avenue
Spirit Lake, IA 51360
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Floods are one of the leading causes of death from natural disasters in the United States. On average, more than 300,000 people are driven from their homes by floods, 200 flood-related fatalities occur, and $6 billion in total flood damages are sustained each year. Over half of flood-related fatalities are vehicle related and associated with persons trying to drive through floodwaters or flash floods. In 2008, unprecedented and extensive flooding severely impacted the Midwest resulting in over 5 million acres of lost or reduced yield crop production, thousands of head livestock losses and subsequent disposal issues, as well as disruption in agriculture processing and business. In the Midwest, floods can occur as a result of spring snowmelt, severe thunderstorms, prolonged rains, inadequate drainage or failure of levees and dams. While the greatest risk for floods are in low-lying areas, near water or downstream from a dam, flooding situations can occur in most locations.
The graphic above shows presidential disaster declarations related to flooding in the United States, shown by county. Green areas represent one declaration; yellow areas represent two declarations; orange areas represent three declarations; red areas represent four or more declarations between June 1, 1965, and June 1, 2003.
Flood situations are variable. The impact can be local affecting a neighborhood or community, or very large, affecting entire river basins and multiple states. Some floods develop slowly – allowing time to prepare and evacuate. Others (e.g., flash floods) can develop quickly, even within a few minutes and without any visible signs of rain.
Regardless of the type or cause, the impact from flood situations can be devastating to individuals, homes, farms, and businesses resulting in injury and death, damage to property and displacement, often permanently, from homes. Floods can also severely impact agricultural crop production due to submersion of standing plants or erosion of top soil layers. Pets and livestock can become displaced, injured, or even drown in flood situations.
While flood situations cannot be entirely prevented, various measures can be taken to prepare for such situations in efforts to prevent or minimize illness, injury and loss due to flood situations. The following factsheets will help you prepare your family, home and farm, animals and business in efforts to minimize the impact and speed the recovery from flood situations.