Oklahoma is no stranger to floods.
In fact, May is Oklahoma’s Flood Awareness Month. The Oklahoma Water Resources Board, Oklahoma Floodplain Managers Association and Gov. Mary Fallin are reminding residents to be prepared in the case of flood conditions.
Although much of West and Northwest Oklahoma continue to face extreme drought conditions, a number of other areas in the state already have faced recent flooding to due heavy rain.
“This demonstrates that floods can occur quickly even during otherwise dry conditions — a reality that helps make them the most common natural disaster in the U.S.,” according to OWRB.
Floods can occur quickly, even with dry conditions.
“With its diverse geography and intense weather patterns, Oklahoma is no stranger to experiencing floods in one area of the state while being impacted by drought conditions in another,” said OWRB Executive Director Julie Cunningham.
“What we’ve seen recently in parts of Oklahoma, with heavy precipitation dropped in a span of minutes, shows why Oklahomans must be prepared. Floods can occur quickly, often lead to tragic loss of life, and cause a significant amount property damage.”
Cunningham said good flood preparation includes making a plan for what to do before, during and after a flood event.
Prior to a flood, residents need to determine if they live in or near a floodplain, check flood insurance status, learn the flood-warning system in their area and find the safest route from their home to higher ground.
Other preparations to take in advance include making a list of possessions; keeping a battery-operated radio and flashlight ready; and to keep valuables, legal documents and insurance policies safe.
During an actual flood, water levels and flow can change fast.
OWRB said to remain aware and monitor local radio and television outlets and to avoid flood waters on foot or by vehicle at all costs, and to evacuate immediately when water begins to rise.
In addition, the organization said to not walk through flood waters; to move to the highest possible point and call 911 if possible if trapped by moving water; and to not dive into flooded roadways or around a barricade. Just 12 inches of water can float a car or small SUV while 18 inches can carry away large vehicles.
Once a flood is over, OWRB said to stay tuned into local news for updated information on road conditions, water quality issues and other public directives in regards to the flood area.
In addition, the organization recommends to ensure water is safe to drink, cook or clean with after a flood; to heed “road closed” signs and other traffic control measures and to not visit disaster areas; and to not enter a flood damaged home or building until given the all clear by authorities, and when entering a home, ensure the electrical system has been turned off.