Flood and Flash Flood Safety


When Maine's large rivers flood, we usually have some advance notice, and The National Weather Service issues flood watches and warnings.

Flash floods can happen whenever we get too much rain in too short a time, at any time of year. Warnings are issued, but may be only shortly in advance of the flooding, or flooding may already be occurring.

Here are some facts you may not know:

  • As little as two feet of water will float most cars and small trucks. If your vehicle begins to float, you lose complete control over the vehicle. If your vehicle stalls in a flooded roadway, abandon it immediately and seek higher ground. The water may sweep the vehicle and its occupants away.
  • Nearly half of all flash flood fatalities are vehicle related.
  • On October 21, 1996, 4 to 19 inches of rain caused very serious flooding in New Hampshire and western Maine. In Scarborough, Maine, one man drowned when he drove his car into a flooded roadway. Unknown to the man, the road had already been washed away.
  • In 2004, in Gardiner, a man died when attempting to kayak in a swollen stream. Rushing flood water may look exciting to the amateur canoeist or boater, but it has incredible power and may be carrying hidden debris.
  • In 2007, in Limerick, Maine, a woman and her little granddaughter were swept away when they tried to walk through flood water.
  • In 2012, a Milo man was killed when he drove into a washed-out section of road.

Here are some flood/flash flood safety tips:

  • Never drive a car into a flooded roadway. Nearly half of all flash flood fatalities are vehicle related.
  • Keep away from streams during heavy rainfall events. Swiftly moving water is extremely powerful and can easily overpower a person.
  • Do not attempt recreational boating in flood water. The power of the water, and the chance of heavy debris being swept along, make this extremely dangerous.
  • Keep children and pets inside and away from flooded streets, culverts, and streams.
  • Report any flooding to the appropriate authorities.
  • Obey all road blocks and barriers, even if the flooding has receded. Flood waters may have undercut the road surface or left dangerous debris in the roadway.
  • If you live in a flood prone area, have a plan in case the water starts rising quickly.
  • If advised to evacuate, do so immediately.

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