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Dam/Levee Failure

Dam failure or levee breeches can occur with little warning. Intense storms may produce a flood in a few hours or even minutes for upstream locations. Flash floods occur within six hours of the beginning of heavy rainfall and dam failure may occur within hours of the first signs of breaching.  Other failures and breaches can take much longer to occur, from days to weeks, as a result of debris jams or the accumulation of melting snow.


Before a Dam or Levee Failure

o   Be aware of flash flooding.  Move immediately to higher ground.  Do no wait for instructions to move.

o   Be aware of drainage channels and other areas known to flood suddenly.

o   If asked to evacuate, secure your home.

o   If you have time, bring in outdoor furniture, move valuables to an upper floor turn off utilities at the main switches, disconnect electric appliances.  Do not touch electric equipment if you are wet or standing in water.


During a Dam or Levee Failure

o   Do not walk or drive through moving water.

o   If you must walk through water, use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.

o   Do not venture into flooded areas.

o   If flood waters rise around your vehicle, abandon it and move to higher ground if you can do so safely.


After a Dam or Levee Failure

o   Avoid floodwaters which can be contaminated with oil, gasoline, or raw sewage.

o   Water may also be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.

o   Be cautious of areas where flood waters have receded.  Roads may be weakened and can collapse.

o   Stay away from downed power lines and report them to the power company.

o   Stay out of buildings or structures surrounded by floodwaters.

o   Service damaged septic tanks, cesspools, pits, and leaching systems as soon as possible.

o   Clean and disinfect anything that became wet since it can contain sewage or other dangerous chemicals.