Floods are the most common natural disaster in the nation and in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. Since 2005, there have been 17 significant flood events in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, causing nearly $9 million in insured losses, and an estimated $9 million in additional losses that were not covered by insurance. In just the past year, there were five significant flood events locally.

Nationally, 90 percent of all natural disasters involve flooding. Floods also cause more deaths nationwide than any other weather event. Last year, floods in the United States caused $5.6 billion in damage.

Most local flooding is caused by intense thunderstorms, tropical storms or hurricanes. If it rains hard enough, flooding can happen anytime, anywhere. Floodwater can overwhelm low-lying areas or push streams out of their banks.

March 15 – 19 is National Flood Safety Awareness Week. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services reminds you:

• Flash floods happen quickly with very little notice.
• Pay attention to flood watches and flood warnings. Be ready to move to higher ground.
• Heavy rain can cause any low-lying area or street to flood, even if it’s not near a creek.
• Buy flood insurance. Homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover flood damage.
• Don’t walk or drive through floodwater. Eighty percent of flood deaths happen in vehicles.

Some areas of Charlotte-Mecklenburg are in mapped, regulated floodplains. Use the interactive Floodzone Map to find out whether your property is in a regulated floodplain. Keep in mind that flooding is unpredictable, and it does happen outside of the mapped floodplain.

“The most important aspect of flood safety is recognizing the risk,” says Tim Trautman, head of Storm Water Services’ Flood Mitigation Program. “Any time there is heavy rain, there is a very real risk of flooding. The first and most important part of flood safety is for all residents to be prepared.”

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