Emergency officials offer advice for flood preparedness

Ezra Maille
Black Mountain News
Living near creeks and rivers brings additional threats to flood plane areas.

With flood season in full swing, the town of Black Mountain as well as North Carolina Emergency Management provides recommendations for how to adequately prepare.  

According to the town of Black Mountain website, floods are one of the most common dangers in the U.S. Due to Black Mountain's particular location, floods can create additional hazards such as landslides, uprooted trees and the destruction of buildings and other property. 

Keith Acree, public information officer with North Carolina Emergency Management, said many of the things individuals can do to prepare for flooding can be similarly applied to any major natural disaster or hazard. These include having some sort of emergency kit, supplies to sustain yourself or your family for a few days, should you not be able to leave the home, and first aid and any other medicines you may need. In the event of power loss, Acree also recommended flashlights and extra batteries. 

Equally important to an emergency preparedness kit, according to Acree, is to have an emergency and evacuation plan. Be it having family or friends in a safer area or knowing where shelter locations in your area can be found, having an escape route provides an important asset. 

"Lastly, have a way to stay informed," Acree said. "Get emergency alert information. Get flood warnings. Get tornado warnings and those sort of things when they're issued." 

Black Mountain officials offer CodeRED, a free emergency notification service which allows the town to easily and quickly dispatch information to targeted areas as well as the entire town.

North Carolina Emergency Management also recommends having flood insurance, regardless of whether one lives in a designated flood plane or not. Those more susceptible to flooding, living along a river, creek or low area, pose vulnerabilities that can leave belongings inescapable. 

"Flash flooding can happen anywhere," Acree said. 

Acree also discussed how communities can ensure safety in their neighborhoods and streets by keeping storm drains and culverts clear of debris, as water can easily become backed up and spill into yards if the drainage systems in place become clogged. 

When roads become flooded, Acree said that if drivers cannot clearly see the roadway, they shouldn't drive through it. While the road might be beneath the water, it's entirely possible for flooding to have washed out much of the drivable road as water runs across it. 

"The catchphrase everyone always hears is that 'Turn around, don't drown' message," Acree said. "If you can't see the roadway underneath the water, then you don't know what's there."

If flood water does occur in your area, Acree said Emergency Management also encourages people to be very cautious when it comes to exposure to flood waters. Wading in without proper clothing or protective equipment can pose additional and unforeseen risks. 

"There can be all kinds of contaminants in flood waters from fuels to bacteria and things," Acree said. 

Hurricane season runs through Nov. 30, and the town of Black Mountain encourages residents to not overlook the dangers of flood waters, high winds and other types of seasonal storms. For more information, visit www.townofblackmountain.org.