Texas Flooding: Spring 2015, — May 30, 2015 9:51 — 0 Comments

ON-SITE REPORT: Houston, Texas, May 29, 2015

Flash Floods Always a Serious Threat; No Game of “Crying Wolf”

Bonding with your neighbors over flood recovery may not be the first choice for most, but that’s exactly what is happening in some Houston area communities. Homeowners who never thought they’d be comparing their pile of debris at the curb with their neighbor’s estimate are now living that very experience together in the aftermath of this weeks disastrous flooding.

“The bayou has never flooded, ” a resident who was flooded out told me. She said it seems that every time it rains, she hears about the flash flood threat. Yawn… We’ve never, ever flooded is a history that sticks – until that history is changed. This homeowner lived one block off the main street that parallels Brays Bayou. She said she went to bed that night thinking the flash flood warning was yet another false alarm. It wasn’t until the water started rising up through the mattress box spring that her alarm went off – for real. Officials said the water rose 12 to 14 feet in 30 minutes, the fastest rate ever recorded.

A flash flood can occur within six hours of the triggering event; in the case of a heavy rainfall, a flash flood can come barreling down in as little as two hours. Unfortunately, when frequent flash flood warnings are heard, people pay less attention to them – and now all too many people are realizing the recent floods in Houston are the fable of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” come to life.

The world is full of risks, some real and some imaginary. The real threats are something to recognize and prepare for each and every time, even if they “never, ever” happened before. Fortunately, most residents along Brays Bayou knew they were in a high-risk flood zone, and the majority of them had flood insurance.

How do you know if you live in a “real” flood risk area? Plug your address into the One-Step Flood Risk Profile window available as www.FloodSmart.gov. If you learn you live in a low- to moderate-flood risk zone, consider that 20 percent of flood insurance claims are paid to people living in those zones. They probably said “it never, ever floods here,” too.

The I.I.I.’s Catastrophe Response Coordinator, Lynne McChristian is in Texas to help with the recovery process. This is one of a series of reports on what she is seeing.

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