Jed Boal ReportingNo need to panic, but you may want to prepare this spring if you live in a potential flood area. Several agencies are urging us all to consider the hazards of flooding.
During the next few months many of our neighborhood creeks could become rivers as all the mountain snow melts. It makes sense that we should be as prepared as possible if the rivers top their banks. Floods kill more people in the US than any other type of severe weather. Floods can devastate communities, wiping out homes and businesses in minutes, as we saw near St. George in January, one of the costliest natural disasters in Utah's history.
Derek Jensen, Utah Department of Public Safety: "We're doing all we can to prepare and citizens should do the same."
Emergency management specialists want us to plan, prepare, and be aware as part of National Flood Safety Awareness Week.
Derek Jensen: "The potential for spring flooding as we get into the run-off season is fairly high."
There's a lot of snow statewide. In Iron and Washington Counties and the eastern Uintas near Vernal record snow pack is at or near record levels.
Brian McInerney, National Weather Service Hydrologist: "Those are areas that have increased snow pack and the highest potential for a flood scenario."
How much flooding depends on the spring climate. A gradual melt reduces flooding, a rapid melt could be trouble.
Derek Jensen: "It's kind of a disaster we have more advance warning for. So now is the time for people to learn what they can to be ready for that."
The state recommends flood insurance if you live in one of 188 Utah communities that participate in the national flood insurance program; call your local planning office to find out
Other basic emergency preparedness is always a good idea. And when the water starts flowing, use good judgment near river banks and keep an eye on kids.
Brian McInerney, National Weather Service Hydrologist: "Every year when we have above average flows, people die in these rivers. People fall in they can't get out, they get hypothermic and they're stuck. People die from this."
There are a lot of resources online about smart preparation for the potential of flooding, including information about flood insurance.