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Top 10 Worst Floods in US History

Top 10 Worst Floods in US History

Top 10 Worst Floods in US History

Despite US dominance as a developed powerhouse, the country experiences some of the worst natural disasters in the world. Hurricanes, floods, wildfires, and tornadoes occur regularly all over the nation.  Advanced weather forecasting and satellite tracking offer warning, and evacuation orders help save lives.  Prevention is crucial to avoid greater tragedy.

Common Traits of the Worst Floods

The worst floods in US history occurred over more than a century in different parts of the country.  Still, there are commonalities in the destruction. Few of the floods were expected, and most regions lacked an adequate warning system for residents. In several cases, problems with dam stability was noted and ignored. Here are the top 10 worst flood events in US history:

1) Johnstown

On May 31, 1889, the South Fork Dam in Johnstown, Pennsylvania collapsed, leading to devastating flooding. The region had previously experienced heavy rains, which clogged the dam spillways.  There was more than $453 million in property damage, and an estimated 2209 people perished.

2) St. Francis Dam Failure

The St. Francis Dam was opened in 1926 after two years of construction. Not long after construction was complete, cracks began to form on the surface of the dam. It collapsed on March 12th, 1928, killing 431.  

3) Ohio River Flood

The 1937 flood of the Ohio River, left an estimated 350 people dead and nearly 1 Million homeless. Rains and flooding persisted for a solid month, from January 5-February 5.

4) Great Dayton Flood

The greatest natural disaster in Ohio’s history was the Great Dayton Flood, which killed 360 people,displaced 65,000 and destroyed tens of thousands of homes and businesses.

5) Great Mississippi Flood

The Great Flood of 1927, flooded the lower Mississippi River valley in April 1927.  It was one of the worst natural disasters in the history of the United States. More than 23,000 square miles of land was submerged, hundreds of thousands of people were displaced, and around 250 people died.The flooding impacted areas in Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee, Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas.

6) Black Hills

On June 9, 1972, heavy thunderstorms caused flash flooding throughout Rapid City and the eastern foothills of the Black Hills, North Dakota. The flood destroyed homes, vehicles, businesses, bridges, and claimed the lives of 238 people.

7) Los Angeles

The Los Angeles disaster killed 144 people and left the area with repairs lasting for years.  This flood prompted the country to the plans to protect the region from the unpredictable nature of the Los Angeles River.

8) Columbus, Ohio

This flood in 1913 occurred between March 23 and March 26, after major rivers in the central and eastern United States flooded, killing 90. This flood prompted federal and local government officials to change the management of waterways and develop flood prevention measures.

9) Laurel Run Dam Failure

As early as 1943, the spillway at the Laurel Run Dam was identified as inadequate to handle a large storm. It was advised that it be upgraded. Another dam assessment in 1959 noted that the spillway wasn’t large enough. Despite these findings, no action was taken to increase the spillway capacity at the dam. In 1970, the dam was classified as a hazard risk, yet again, no action was taken. On July 20, 1977 during a torrential storm, the dam failed, killing 40.

10) Austin Dam Failure

On September 30, 1911, the Austin dam failed and destroyed much of the town of Austin. The property damage was around $10 million. It resulted in the deaths of 78 people.

Lessons Learned From the Past

The value of these disasters are the lessons learned from them. They prompted major reform in infrastructure, warning systems and accountability. Federal funding increased for public works, and disaster relief funds were established. With increased warning systems, people are better able to protect their property and themselves.  With tools such as the Water Inflated Property Protector, there are more resources to combat flood damage.

For more information about how to protect your home or business in the event of a flood, Contact Us.

Flood Preparedness: What You Need to Know

Flood Preparedness: What You Need to Know

Flooding often happens along with many other storm-related events. For this reason, floods remain the #1 natural disaster in the U.S. Flooding can happen without warning and the damage is swift and devastating. The impact to life and property can seem beyond repair. Use the following guide to help prepare your family and property for flooding this year.

Flood Preparedness: The Basics

It’s never a good idea to walk or drive through flood waters, even if you think it’s only a few inches. 6 inches is enough for moving water to knock you off your feet. It only takes 2 feet to move your vehicle. Just don’t do it. At the first chance of flash flooding, move somewhere higher. If you are in your vehicle and the water is rising around you, take every precaution. If the water is not moving, abandon your vehicle to higher ground. It is extremely dangerous to exit your vehicle into moving floodwaters. Additionally, be smart where you park your car during heavy rainfall. Rivers and other streams are prone to flooding quickly. To be safe, just turn around.

What to do During a Flood Watch

When a flood watch is issued in your area, it means the conditions are good for flooding. You need to be aware. Keep your radio or tv turned on and tuned into a reliable source for weather updates and emergency information. Explore your surroundings for higher ground you could reach quickly, maybe even by foot. Take inventory of your emergency kit and make sure you have plenty of everything including a flashlight, batteries, a first aid kit, and extra cash. Be ready to turn off your electricity and gas at the main switch when instructed.

What to do During a Flood Warning

When a flood warning is issued in your area, it means flooding is already happening or will happen soon. You need to take action. Move immediately and remain on higher ground. Listen to emergency instructions and be ready to evacuate if directed. Do not drive or walk through flood waters, no matter how low you think they are.

What to do After a Flood

Wait for instructions from authorities to return safely to your home. Take photographs of any damage to your property for insurance claims. When you are out and about, watch for debris and eroded roads and pathways. Avoid standing water and driving through areas still flooded. Remember, there is a chance for electrocution due to downed power lines and other electrical hazards.

Before the Flood

It is a good time to make sure you are prepared in the case of heavy flooding. Make sure you have a flood emergency plan and be sure to restock your emergency kit. Look into your area emergency plans and locate places of higher ground should you need to evacuate. Flood insurance is a good protection to have, but keep in mind it only works after flood damage has already occurred. For flood prevention, consider purchasing a flood barrier. They are easy to deploy and store, and will prevent flood waters from damaging your property.

Be Prepared. Stay Dry.

You never know when flooding could happen in your area. Floods accompany many other storms and the damage they bring is devastating. Use this guide to know what to do before, during, and after flooding occurs. Contact Us for more information on flood preparedness and the use of flood barriers for prevention.