Wednesday, March 3


Illinois Severe Weather Preparedness Week

Flooding     Send a link to a friend

[MARCH 3, 2004]  Did your weather alarm go off this morning? Like the sirens you may have heard yesterday, the weather alarm is tested regularly. If you don't have an alarm, it is highly advisable to have one, particularly if you live or work in a less substantially protective structure, such as a mobile home. The weather alarms supply forecasts and, more importantly, hazardous weather warnings. The most updated versions also provide Amber Alerts and other alerts.

The National Weather Service's declaration of Severe Weather Preparedness Week proves quite timely this year. We have been experiencing springlike weather with the potential to turn severe nearly every day in the last week.

The weather service has provided practical information that every Illinoisan needs to know. If you missed reading on Monday and Tuesday, you should look back through the archives to acquaint yourself with general safety tips, as well as recommendations in specific weather events such as tornadoes.

Today's final installment addresses what to do in case of flooding.

[Jan Youngquist]



  • Know the terms used to describe flood threats:
  • Flood watch -- Flooding or flash flooding is possible. Be prepared to move to higher ground. Listen to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio or commercial television for additional 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 or is imminent. Move to higher ground immediately.

  • Flood statement -- Minor flooding of creeks and streams, streets and low-lying areas or basement flooding is occurring or is imminent.

  • Refer to the "Before" section under "Thunderstorms," plus the following:
  • Learn flood warning signs and, if used in your area, any community alert signals.
  • Know how to shut off electricity, gas and water at main switches and valves. Know where gas pilots are located and how the heating system works.
  • Have check valves installed in building sewer traps to prevent floodwaters from backing up in sewer drains. As a last resort, use large corks or stoppers to plug showers, tubs or basins.
  • Consider measures for flood proofing your home. Call your local building department or emergency management agency for information.
  • Consider purchasing flood insurance. Flood losses are not covered under homeowners insurance policies.
  • Flood insurance is available in most communities through the National Flood Insurance Program. There is usually a period before it takes effect, so don't delay. Flood insurance is available whether the building is in or out of the identified flood-prone area. Call your insurance company for more information.
  • Insure your property and possessions. Make an inventory of your possessions using paper lists, photographs or videotapes of your belongings. Leave a copy with your insurance company. Update your inventory and review your coverage with your insurance company periodically.
  • Keep all of your important records and documents in a safe deposit box or another safe place away from the premises.


  • Monitor the radio or television for the latest weather information.
  • Move valuable household possessions to the upper floor or move to another location if flooding is imminent and time permits.
  • If instructed to do so by local authorities, turn off utilities at their source.
  • Listen to a battery-operated radio for evacuation instructions.
  • If advised to evacuate, do so quickly.
  • Evacuation is much simpler and safer before flood waters become too deep for ordinary vehicles to drive through.
  • Follow recommended evacuation routes. Shortcuts may be blocked.
  • People lose their lives by attempting to drive over a flooded roadway. The speed and depth of the water is not always obvious. There may be a hidden portion of the roadway washed out under the water. Two feet of water will carry away most automobiles.

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  • Flood dangers do not end when the water begins to recede. Listen to a radio or television, and don't return home until authorities indicate it is safe to do so.
  • When you are allowed to return, remember to help your neighbors who may require special assistance.
  • Inspect foundations for cracks or other damage.
  • When entering buildings, use extreme caution.
  • Look for fire hazards.
  • If your home was damaged, check the utilities.
  • Stay out of buildings that remain in the floodwaters.
  • Avoid coming in contact with floodwaters. The water may be contaminated with oil, gasoline or raw sewage.
  • Do not wade through a flooded stream to protect or retrieve belongings.
  • Throw away food -- including canned goods -- that has come in contact with floodwaters.
  • Pump out flooded basements gradually -- about one-third of the water per day -- to avoid structural damage.
  • Service damaged septic tanks, cesspools, pits and leaching systems as soon as possible. Damaged sewer systems pose a health hazard.
  • Stay alert for areas where floodwaters have receded. Roads may have weakened and could collapse under the weight of a vehicle.
  • Do not let children play in or near floodwaters, flooded creeks or flood retention ponds.
  • Stay away from downed power lines. Report them to the utility company immediately.
  • If unaffected by the flood, stay out of the area until allowed to enter by officials. Your presence may hamper emergency operations.
  • Monitor the radio for special information about where to go to get assistance for housing, clothing and food. Other programs are available to help you cope with the stress of the situation.
  • Take photos of or videotape the damage to your home and your belongings.

[Provided by Chris Miller
warning coordination meteorologist,
National Weather Service, Lincoln

Sources of weather and weather safety information

For additional information on severe weather or other hazards, contact the following:

NOAA Weather Radio

Listen to NOAA Weather Radio for the latest weather forecasts. The National Weather Service broadcasts weather information, including watches, warnings and advisories, 24 hours a day. Weather radio transmitters have a range of about 40 miles. Weather radio transmitters that cover Illinois are listed at right. A map depicting the coverage of each transmitter can be found at

[to top of second column in this section]

City Station Frequency
Bloomington KZZ-65 162.525 MHz
Cape Girardeau, Mo. KXI-93 162.550 MHz
Champaign WXJ-76 162.550 MHz
Chester KXI-42 162.450 MHz
Chicago KWO-39 162.550 MHz
Crescent City KXI-86 162.500 MHz
Crystal Lake KXI-41 162.500 MHz
DeKalb WNG-536 162.550 MHz
Dixon KZZ-55 162.525 MHz
Dubuque, Iowa WXL-64 162.400 MHz
Edwardsport, Ind. WWG-82 162.425 MHz
Evansville, Ind. KIG-76 162.550 MHz
Freeport KZZ-56 162.450 MHz
Galesburg KZZ-66 162.400 MHz
Hannibal, Mo. WXK-82 162.475 MHz
Hillsboro KXI-79 162.425 MHz
Jacksonville WXM-90 162.525 MHz
Jerseyville KXI-70 162.450 MHz
Kankakee KZZ-58 162.525 MHz
Lockport KZZ-81 162.425 MHz
Macomb WXJ-92 162.500 MHz
Maquoketa, Iowa KZZ-83 162.500 MHz
Marion WXM-49 162.425 MHz
Mayfield, Ky. KIH-46 162.475 MHz
McLeansboro KXI-52 162.400 MHz
Medill, Mo. WXL-99 162.450 MHz
Newton KXI-48 162.450 MHz
Odell WXK-24 162.450 MHz
Paris KXI-47 162.525 MHz
Peoria WXJ-71 162.475 MHz
Plano KXI-58 162.400 MHz
Princeton WXL-22 162.425 MHz
Putnamville, Ind. WXK-72 162.400 MHz
Racine, Wis. KZZ-76 162.450 MHz
Rock Island (Moline) WXJ-73 162.550 MHz
Rockford KZZ-57 162.475 MHz
Salem KXI-49 162.475 MHz
Shelbyville KXI-46 162.500 MHz
Springfield WXJ-75 162.400 MHz
St. Louis, Mo. KDO-89 162.550 MHz
West Burlington, Iowa WXN-83 162.525 MHz

[Provided by Chris Miller
warning coordination meteorologist,
National Weather Service, Lincoln

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