Flash flooding safety


by Emily Hummel


Posted on October 30, 2009 at 1:58 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 30 at 1:58 PM

Flash floods and floods are the worst weather-related killer, causing about 140 deaths in the United States annually each year.

When flash flood watches or warnings are issued for your area, remember the following:


  • If ordered to evacuate or if rising water is threatening, leave immediately and get to higher ground. 
  • If your home is in a flood-prone area, make a list of personal items to protect from flood waters. If you don't know whether you live in a flood-prone area, contact Austin's Stormwater Management Division at 499-7104. 
  • The City of Austin staffs an Emergency Operations Center that monitors creeks during heavy storms and relays information about threatening situations immediately to the news media. Keep up with the news for current information.


  • Go to higher ground immediately. Avoid small rivers or streams, low spots, canyons, dry creekbeds, etc. 
  • Do not try to walk through flowing water more than ankle deep! 
  • Do not allow children to play around streams, drainage ditches or viaducts, storm drains, or other flooded areas. 
  • Rafting and tubing in swollen creeks is life-threatening. All boating, rafting, canoeing and tubing are illegal on all waterways within Austin if a Boating Ban is declared by the Fire Chief.


  • DO NOT DRIVE THROUGH FLOODED AREAS! The large majority of flash-flooding deaths strike people driving through flooded areas. Some vehicles will float in as little as 12 inches of fast-moving water, which can displace 1,500 pounds. 
  • Don't drive or walk into water that is flowing across low water crossings, bridges or any other area. The road under the water could be washed out. 
  • Don't pass or move street barricades set up at low water crossings and flooded areas. If you drive around a barricade, you are subject to a $200 fine. 
  • For information about road closures and other emergency conditions within the City of Austin, call 445-1996.

Sources: The Austin Office of Emergency Managment and the Norman National Weather Service Forecast Office