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Hazards - Flood
Overview of the Hazard
Anywhere it rains, it can flood. Floods are the inundation of a normally dry area caused by an increased water level in an established watercourse, such as a river, stream, drainage ditch, or ponding of water at or near the point where the rain fell. Flooding is one of Brevard’s most frequent and widespread weather-related natural hazards.
Flooding Quick Facts
- Flooding can occur from hurricanes, rapid accumulation of heavy rainfall, dam/levee breaks, storm surge, and outdated or clogged drainage systems. Flooding can range from just a few inches to several feet, and can occur quickly or last for a long period of time, such as days, weeks, or longer.
- Flash floods are the most dangerous kind of floods. This type of flooding causes a rapid rise of water in a short period of time, generally with little or no warning.
- With flooding assessed as the hazard with the third highest relative risk, Brevard County has a particular interest in participation in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and the Community Rating System (CRS), in order to assist homeowners and businesses with decisions about property vulnerability and flood insurance. The NFIP allows property owners in the 100-year flood zone to acquire federal flood insurance policies on their land, which is subject to flood hazards. Those cities and counties participating in the CRS qualify residents for reduced rates on flood insurance, which vary depending on level of activities the jurisdiction performs to reduce its flood potential.
- Due to the relatively flat terrain across Florida, it is complicated to drain accumulated water. When rivers rise, water tends to spread out far from riverbanks. In the case of the 1997-98 El Niño floods, rising rivers and repeated periods of heavy rainfall combined to pool water over land miles away from rivers. In fact, normally small rivers turned into vast lakes. Pooling of water poses a significant risk, not as much from swift moving water, but more from one’s inability to judge water depth. Water only inches deep can be next to water that is several feet deep.
- As little as one foot of (moving) water can move most cars off the road
- Just six inches of fast-moving flood water can sweep you off your feet
- Most flood-related deaths occur at night and are vehicular
- Urban and small stream flash floods often occur in less than one hour
- Tropical cyclones pose significant risk well inland due to fresh water flooding
The National Flood Insurance Program
- The National Flood Insurance Program, is a pre-disaster flood mitigation and insurance protection program. The National Flood Insurance Program makes federally backed flood insurance available to residents and business owners National Flood Insurance Program, call 1-888-CALL-FLOOD ext. 445, TDD# 1-800-427-5593.
- FloodSmart.gov provides the following recommended actions you can take:
- Mitigation is the effort to reduce loss of life and property by lessening the impact of disasters. Take action now before the next disaster to reduce human and financial consequences later
- Build Responsibly:
- If you plan on improving your home or repairing it after a disaster, and those improvements or repairs cost 50% or more of the building value pre-disaster, then you will be required to bring your structure up to current building and floodplain standards
- Get a permit before you build and work with a licensed contractor.
FloodSmart.gov provides the following recommended actions you can take:
- Know your flood zone.
- Homeowners' insurance does not cover flood damage.
- If you live in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) or high-risk area and have a federally backed mortgage, your mortgage lender requires you to have flood insurance.
- In most cases, it takes 30 days after purchase for a policy to take effect, so it's important to buy insurance before the storm approaches and the floodwaters start to rise.
- Even though flood insurance isn't federally required, anyone can be financially vulnerable to floods. In fact, people outside of mapped high-risk flood areas file over 20-percent of all National Flood Insurance Program flood insurance claims and receive one-third of Federal Disaster Assistance for flooding. From 2005 to 2014, total flood insurance claims averaged more than $3.5 billion per year.
- Brevard County participates in the Community Rating System (CRS), which means you qualify for an insurance premium reduction discount based on the riskiness of the area you live in.
- Due to its topography, the county has experienced inland flooding from at least 12 hurricane strength storms and numerous tropical systems since 1922. In addition, severe winter weather systems have caused significant coastal and inland flooding.
- Flooding can occur from the ocean or rising waters of the Indian River, Banana River, St. John’s River, Mosquito Lagoon, Sykes Creek and Newfound Harbor. The majority of the land west of Interstate 95 makes up part of the St. John’s River Valley flood plain.
- The county is susceptible to short duration flooding, typical of a frontal system with short periods of rain. However, rainfall can be very intense and usually is associated with thunderstorms. Freshwater flooding occurs when an excessive amount of rainfall accompanies a tropical storm or hurricane. With the topography and high water table of Brevard County, drainage problems can make a small amount of rainfall very significant. Man-made alterations to the land have disrupted natural flow patterns and can lead to shallow flooding over a large area. Lastly, coastal tidal flooding is generated from high tides and wind action and is a chronic problem within the coastal shoreline. In Brevard County, extreme flooding events can occur throughout the County at any time of the year.
- Historical Events in Brevard County Include:
- On August 25, 1999, numerous thunderstorms passing over Melbourne and Brevard County produced nearly 3 to 8 inches of rain, flooding numerous roadways, and 49 homes received minor flooding.
- On October 24, 2005, Hurricane Wilma produced 10 to 13 inches of rain which fell across the central and north part of the county, and about 200 homes were flooded in Cocoa.
- The most recent widespread flooding event was the result of record-setting rain during Tropical Storm Fay in 2008. Fay’s rain exceeded 20 inches of flooding above ground level.
What Would You Do?
- Know your risks
- Build a kit
- Have a plan
- Stay informed
To protect yourself, learn what flood threats affect your community:
Have a Family Emergency Plan
- Is your home and/or business located in flood-prone area?
- Know your evacuation routes before flooding occurs to ensure your safety
- Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood dangers
- Find a place where your family can safely meet up at after an evacuation order is issued
- Know the difference between a flood WATCH and a flood WARNING
- WATCH: The expectation of a flood event has increased, but its occurrence, location, and timing are still uncertain
- WARNING: A flood event is occurring, imminent, or has a high probability of occurring
and a Disaster Supply Kit
ready in case you need to evacuate
According to floodsmart.gov, here are some recommended actions you can take to protect yourself and your property during a flood:
- If flooding occurs, go to higher ground and avoid areas subject to flooding.
- Do not attempt to walk across flowing streams or drive through flooded roadways.
- If water rises in your home before you evacuate, go to the top floor, attic, or roof.
- Listen to a battery-operated radio for the latest storm information.
- Turn off all utilities at the main power switch and close the main gas valve if advised to do so.
If you have come into contact with floodwaters, wash your hands with soap and disinfected water.
According to ready.gov and floodsmart.gov, here are some recommended actions you can take following a flood:
- Return home only when authorities say it is safe.
- Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded and watch out for debris. Floodwaters often erode roads and walkways.
- Do not attempt to drive through areas that are still flooded.
- Avoid standing water as it may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.
- Check for structural damage before re-entering your home to avoid being trapped in a building collapse.
- If your home has suffered damage, call your insurance agent to file a claim.
- Make a list of damaged or lost items and include their purchase date and value with receipts, and place with the inventory you took prior to the flood. Some damaged items may require disposal, so keep photographs of these items.
- Keep power off until an electrician has inspected your system for safety.
- Boil water for drinking and food preparation until authorities tell you that your water supply is safe.
- Prevent mold by removing wet contents immediately.
- Wear gloves and boots to clean and disinfect. Wet items should be cleaned with a pine-oil cleanser and bleach, completely dried, and monitored for several days for any fungal growth and odors.
Brevard County Emergency Management Office
1746 Cedar Street
Rockledge, Florida 32955
Tel: (321) 637-6670
Fax: (321) 633-1738