Though the Mojave Desert is dryer than most climates, flash floods can be a very real threat. Flash floods occur when excessive water fills normally dry creeks or river beds along with currently flowing creeks and rivers, causing rapid rises of water in a short amount of time. They can happen with little or no warning.
As a part of the Presidential Policy Plan Directive-8: National Preparedness, a directive passed in 2011, the Combat Center is participating in September’s National Preparedness Month. During the second week of September, G-7, Mission Assurance, has focused on flash flood preparation.
"Flash floods are the most dangerous kind of floods, because they combine the destructive power of a flood with incredible speed and unpredictability," said Michael Quintana, chemical biological radiological or nuclear defense protection officer, G-7. "Since we live in areas prone to flash floods, plan now to protect your family and property."
Flash floods can happen any time of the year, but seasonal thunderstorms during the spring and summer months can bring heavy rain and cause severe flooding. Areas like the southwestern United States are affected by seasonal monsoon storms during this time of year. Flash floods are typical during this season.
To properly prepare for a flash flood, it is important to have a plan for when they occur. If a flash flood occurs, it is important to get to high ground, away from typical flood areas such as ditches, ravines, dips or low spots, and canyons. Identify where to go to reach high ground as quickly as possible.
Do not attempt to cross flowing streams or drive on flooded roadways, as road beds may be washed out under flood waters. Avoid parking or camping along streams and washes, particularly during threatening conditions.
It is important to make a written evacuation plan, emergency communication plan and to build an emergency kit.
Kits should include items such as: water, enough for one gallon per person per day; food, enough for three days; a first aid kit; personal sanitation supplies; a flashlight and a local map.
“Having a plan is the first step in protecting your family. Don’t assume that someone will be there to help you and your family immediately,” said Quintana. “Remember that you could be on your own for quite a while. As we all know, a disaster can strike at any time and being prepared as much as possible can help families survive when things get difficult.”
For more information on National Preparedness Month, or a template on building an emergency kit and communication plan, visit ready.marines.mil.