When I was younger, we lived in a little stone house on the side of a Kentucky mountain. During the spring, we children anxiously watched the creek at the bottom of the valley, afraid the flood waters coming from higher up in the mountains would wash away the tiny island we’d cultivated in the middle of creek. We circled it with rocks and kept the sand and pebbles from shifting too much, hoping this work would keep our little island around forever.
One evening, the rain rushed from the sky and down the mountains – and right into our valley. Our basement, dug into the side of a mountain, had spouts in the walls to let the water move through and to keep the torrents from washing the house down the mountainside. When we discovered the water gushing from these spouts,we tried to move everything upstairs before it was ruined. That made for an exciting evening.
The rain had stopped by the next morning and my family took a walk to examine the damage that occurred throughout the community. The houses in this area are built to withstand mountain weather, so there was very little physical damage. The creek, however, had risen much higher than its normal depth, almost touching the high footbridge crossing it. The water was probably 4 feet deeper than usual. Our sand and pebble island didn’t stand a chance.
This week is Flood Safety Awareness Week and whether or not you’ve experienced a flood first-hand, you’ve likely seen its destructive power. Waterways that are usually beautiful life-sources become deadly and terrifying. The Midwest is particularly susceptible to floods, according to this map put out by FEMA. And according to that site, 90% of all natural disasters in the U.S. include flooding. Flooding can happen anywhere – on a Kentucky mountainside, in a western river valley, or in the flat farmland of Michigan. We cannot control rising water but we can take steps to be prepared.
- Know the difference between a watch and warning. (And heed official directions relating to evacuation.)
- Review these steps with your family.
- Get a disaster kit.
Be aware of the flood risks in your community and prepare for all possibilities. And know that if you do experience a flood, the American Red Cross will be there to help in relief and rebuilding.
Once the water level of our creek in Kentucky had returned to normal, we kids traipsed down to inspect the damage done to our island. Much of it had been washed away, but some of the rocks still remained. We put on our rubber boots and dug into the bed of the creek, moving the sand and rocks back to the center to re-create our familiar landmark. It wasn’t long before we had rebuilt the island, and even if it was not exactly the way it was before the flood, it was close.