• Flood Zones

    Many people have heard about the 100-year-floodplain or the 500-year-floodplain.  These terms can be very confusing, and do not accurately reflect the risk of a property that is near to a river or stream. The 100-year and 500-year floodplain are terms used in the National  Flood Insurance Program, and do not relate to the random nature of actual floods.  The massive devastation in the Delaware River Basin in 2004, 2005 and 2006 were in many cases only 35, 45 or 55-year floods according to the regulatory floodplain demarcation, but they were still dramatic, dangerous and damaging events.  Damage from these sorts of storms is very common: approximately 30 percent of all flood claims come from outside of the 100-year floodplain. We use the term "flood zone" to indicate an area that is either at high, medium or low, but still possible, risk of flooding.  It is important to determine whether you are in a flood zone.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency has mapped the 100 and 500-year floodplains in most areas of the country, and these "flood insurance rate maps" or "flood maps" are available here.  They can be a good starting point, but are not all that you need to consider.  Property owners should investigate their flood risk by researching the history of their property, through conversations with neighbors, and by investigating the geography and terrain around the property.  It is also important to know whether access roads to the property flood or if they flood sooner than the property does, as this will affect evacuation plans.  Even if an individual property doesn't flood, if many homes and access roads in your neighborhood do flood, it might be wise to evacuate at the same time, to avoid being isolated in a potentially dangerous storm. Other distinctions to make Properties can be at higher or lower risk within a FEMA floodplain area, depending where they are located. For example, one house in the "50-year floodplain" may have their property flood 2 feet deep during a storm, but their neighbor deeper in the floodplain may flood 6 feet deep. Another very important consideration is the nature of the terrain that gathers rainfall upstream of your property. If that area has steep hillsides and little vegetation or thin rocky soils that don’t absorb water easily, you could be subject to flash floods that can be much more powerful and dangerous than slow rising water. If you have questions about your flood risk, contact someone from your city or county who can help you understand the potential hazards you may face.  Many communities have certified floodplain managers who are trained to help you understand these issues.

    Do you live, work or drive in a flood zone? Flood Zones
  • Flood Alerts

    The National Weather Service has a variety of flood forecast and warning tools that can provide you with critical advance notice of floods.  These tools include maps and graphs that can help you know when rivers near you are going to flood, and to what extent. To use these tools, first identify the stream gage nearest you.  You can do that here.  Once you zoom in and find the gage nearest you, click on the button for that gage, and you will see a "hydrograph," or a chart that shows you current river levels.  If a flood is predicted in your area, the hydrograph will also show you predicted flood levels and timing.  It is a good idea to bookmark this page and check it regularly during times when the river level is rising or expected to flood.  Additionally, if you sign up for RSS feed alerts, you will receive notice to your Internet browser, RSS reader, email, and if you have one, smart phone email, when a flood watch or warning is issued.  This video will provide you an overview of how to sign up for "flood alerts" using an RSS feed. National Weather Service employees themselves say not to wait until a formal "Flood Warning" is issued to start getting prepared: that may be too late.  Instead, keep abreast of river levels, so you have plenty of time to prepare your go-kit and evacuate if needed. Check with your local municipality or county to see whether they offer any additional notifications of extreme weather, including flooding. Some communities offer a reverse 911, for which you may have to sign up in advance, or use other commercially available services to alert residents of impending dangerous weather.

    Sign up for flood alerts! Flood Alerts
  • Flood Plans

    What's In a Flood Plan? A flood plan is simply the advance methods your family, business or community have put together to help you respond quickly in the event of a flood near your property.   Planning in advance can afford you extra critical time when a flood is coming, and can help you increase the odds of protecting your valuable documents, your real estate, and your personal property - including cherished belongings.  A "rapid-response" plan can be as simple as a one-page plan that answers the following questions: 1.  How will we find out about a coming flood? The first part of a Flood Plan is putting yourself in a position to get some advance warning of an unfolding situation. Large scale flooding on the main stem of a river may occur over many hours or several days, but flash floods can strike in minutes. Signing up for flood alerts and monitoring weather patterns and local conditions are important steps. People living along the Eastern seaboard need to be mindful of the flood potential from tropical moisture that can move up the coast and deposit huge amounts of rain (or snow that melts quickly) inland. Summertime thunderstorms are often the cause of flash floods, but such events can happen any time of year. Monitor National Weather Service Flood Forecasts Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service You can also follow your local weather forecast: NWS local forecasts FEMA has general flood hazard maps online here, which serve as a starting point for determining your property's relationship to nearby waterways. 2. At what river level does our property begin to flood? First, determine "What's Your Number?"  This means visiting the National Weather Service's Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Services website to learn the flood stage at the stream gage nearest you.  Click here to learn more.  Then, determine the level at which flood waters begin to affect your property.  This step may take research or personal experience to determine, but it is worth talking to neighbors to find out how high the river was during recent floods, and at what point flooding began in your neighborhood.  Each neighborhood and each property has its own unique terrain and placement to consider when determining this factor, and it is safest to err on the side of caution.  Give yourself plenty of time to evacuate. 3. Where is our family go-kit located? What does it contain? Preparing your household for a flood involves steps that will help you be prepared for many different types of disasters. An emergency kit, or Family Go-kit, might include first aid supplies, a 3 day supply of non-perishable food, bottled water, a battery-powered radio, extra batteries and flashlights. Also, personal items like rubber boots and a rain jacket, warm clothes plus hygiene and sanitation products can be very helpful.  An example of contents for a "Family Go-Kit" can be found here. 4. How will we learn about evacuation orders? Find out how your community notifies residents of floods and how it makes evacuation orders.  Make a commitment to follow evacuation orders the first time, to prevent emergency personnel from having to return for a rescue when travel is no longer safe. 5. What access roads can we use to evacuate in the case of rising waters? Research indicates that the majority of flood-related fatalities occur as cars become trapped on roads that are known to flood. Talk to neighbors, emergency personnel and others to determine which access roads to your home flood, and when.  Know what roads you regularly travel and whether or not they will flood, and plan alternate routes when needed.  6. What steps should we take to prepare our property? Research the flood-proofing options available to you.  Can you install a quick-disconnect furnace, or elevate electrical and mechanical equipment?  Are there steps you can take to alleviate pressure on your structure if flooding does occur, to prevent extensive damage to doors and windows?  7. Where should our family meet if we are separated during a flood event? Is our child's school or spouse's workplace in a flood zone, or are access roads subject to flooding?  If so, what provisions should we make for their safety? Other Considerations A written plan is essential for helping individuals and households to think through important issues in advance. You should also investigate whether there are similar plans in place for work, daycare and school and see how they work with your plan. Expect roadways to be blocked.  Using a cell phone (sparingly, so as not to clog the network), you can determine whether other friends and family are safely sheltered where they are, and whether it is safer to wait out the storm than to risk dangerous travel across town through flood-prone roads. Remember, the most common things people regret planning to save are: pets, photographs, and computers. Can you pack all these in a vehicle and drive to high ground in time? Helpful Flood Terms Flood Watch: Flooding is possible. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information and check the flood alert sites on the Internet. Flash Flood Watch: Flash flooding is possible. Be prepared to move to higher ground; listen to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information. Flood Warning: Flooding is occurring or will occur soon; if advised to evacuate, do so immediately. Flash Flood Warning: A flash flood is occurring; seek higher ground immediately. Helpful Links Find additional information on how to plan and prepare for floods, what to do during and after a flood, and learn about available resources by visiting the following: DisasterAssistance.gov Federal Emergency Management Agency www.FloodSmart.gov

    Floods happen. Lessen the loss. (A project of Nurture Nature Foundation) Flood Plans
  • Understanding Flood Risk in the Delaware River Basin

    Understanding your flood risk means more than just knowing whether your property is in a FEMA-designated flood zone. It also means knowing the natural factors that affect flooding, and the technology available to help preserve properties and protect lives. "Understanding Flood Risk in the Delaware River Basin" features a series of six interviews with flood authorities and experts who discuss the factors that affect flood risk, and the decision-making processes and new technology that can help reduce losses. Hear from authorities on flooding, discussing flood frequency and the misleading phrase "100-year-storm," climate and flooding, flood forecast and warning, community planning responses to flooding, and more. Companion text, graphics, linked resources and discussion questions make this a great teaching tool or basic introductory guide to the issues that surround flood risk in the Delaware River Basin and beyond. Introduction to Understanding Flood Risk A brief introduction to the six chapter series, Understanding Flood Risk. Understanding Flood Risk: Chapter 1. An overview of some of the weather and terrain factors that increase flood risk in the Delaware River Basin. This segment is chapter 1 of 6 in the Understanding Flood Risk series. Understanding Flood Risk: Chapter 2. An interview with Pennsylvania State Climatologist Dr. Paul Knight about weather and climate impacts on flood risk. This segment in chapter 2 of 6 in the Understanding Flood Risk series. Understanding Flood Risk: Chapter 3. Nurture Nature Foundation Director of Environmental Outreach Rachel Hogan Carr interviews Dr. Dru Germanoski, geology professor at Lafayette College, about regional flood frequency, and the challenges of the "100-year-flood" concept. This segment is chapter 3 of 6 in the Understanding Flood Risk series. Understanding Flood Risk: Chapter 4. Hydrologist Peter Ahnert, of the National Weather Service's Middle Atlantic River Forecast Center, discusses the use of new "flood alert" technology that, in the case of an impending flood event, sends flood watch and warning messages to users who have signed up. This segment is chapter 4 of 6 in the Understanding Flood Risk series. Understanding Flood Risk: Chapter 5. Becky Bradley, Director of Planning and Codes for the City of Easton, Pennsylvania, discusses how the City changed its land use codes and began to regulate the 500-year-floodplain after repeated flooding - and how it has benefited the city's safety and economic development. This segment is chapter 5 of 6 in the Understanding Flood Risk Series. Understanding Flood Risk: Chapter 6. Floodplain resident John Mauser discusses the steps he takes to keep his property and family safe during recurrent flood events, including monitoring river levels, and having detailed evacuation and readiness plans. This segment is chapter 6 of 6 in the Understanding Flood Risk series.

    Understand Your Flood Risk Understanding Flood Risk in the Delaware River Basin

From Risk to Resiliency: Engaging the Public

In many communities across the country, flooding is a regular part of life. Whether rivers and creeks rise several times a year, or only every few decades, every at-risk community needs to know what it can do to reduce losses from flooding. Focus on Floods focuses on ways that residents, businesses and governments in the Delaware River Basin can work together to prepare, and then share news about how to get ready for flooding in smart, safe ways that respect the environment. Focus on Floods includes information and materials for emergency managers, classroom teachers and floodplain residents. It also features a new Social Science area for those interested in what social sciences can tell us about why people do - and don't - prepare for inevitable flooding.  Take a tour of this site, and join us as we start a community conversation about the best ways to prepare for flooding -- because floods happen, but with proper planning, we can lessen the loss.

  • Education Materials

    Education Materials

    The Focus on Floods DVD-ROM is available to educators, floodplain professionals, emergency management officials and others who are looking to learn more - and help educate others about flooding.  We also offer full-color posters, magnets and other  read more

  • Talking About Risk

    Talking About Risk

    This six-chapter media piece, “Understanding Flood Risk in the Delaware River Basin" features interviews with experts who discuss the factors that affect flood risk, and the decision-making processes and technology that can reduce losses.  Learn more about  read more

  • News & Notices

    • Seeking Coastal NJ Residents for Focus Groups

      Thu Sep 18th, 2014

      As part of its ongoing social science study, "They Had the Facts, Why Didn't They Act?: Understanding and Improving Public Response to NWS Coastal Flooding Forecasts," NNC is seeking residents 18 years and older who live in Monmouth or Ocean Counties in New Jersey to participate in one of two focus groups at the Brick Township Library at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Monday, November 3.  Participants will give feedback read more

    • NNC begins coastal flooding research study

      Sat Jan 4th, 2014

      In January 2014, NOAA Sea Grant, through its Coastal Storm Awareness Program, awarded a 16-month grant project to NNC to study the public's use of National Weather Service's flood forecast and warning tools.  The social science research study entitled, "They Had the Facts, Why Didn't They Act?: Understanding and Improving Public Response to NWS Coastal Flooding Forecasts," will look specifically at the role of emergency briefings as an emerging tool for communicating read more

  • The Day of the Flood Trailer

    A one-and-a-half minute trailer for the film “The Day of the Flood” previews this story of how one river valley community prepared for – and survived – a major riverine flood.  Conceived by Nurture Nature Foundation and produced by MagikStudio of Easton, PA, the film demonstrates best practices for flood readiness, and highlights the use of National Weather Service flood forecast and warning tools.  The full, ten-minute video is available here.


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This website was prepared by NNF under the award number NA09NWS4670005 from NOAA, U.S. Dept. of Commerce. The statements, findings, conditions and recommendations are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of NOAA or the U.S. Dept. of Commerce.