ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — April is Maryland Flood Awareness Month, and officials are asking Marylanders to take precautions and get prepared for flooding as one of the rainiest months of the year begins in the state.
Flooding is the number one natural hazard in Maryland and officials in the City of Annapolis say it is starting to occur more often.READ MORE: MDTA Police Look For Vehicles Involved In Suspected Road Rage Shooting
“What’s happening now is we’re experiencing a great deal many more intense short-duration rainfall events and often people don’t take them seriously,” said Jacqueline Guild, Deputy City Manager of Resilience and Sustainability for the City of Annapolis. “We want people to take this seriously and take proper precautions.”
Guild said that in the event of flooding, individuals should:
- Go to higher ground
- Don’t walk or drive through floodwaters: six inches of floodwater can knock a person down and two feet of water can sweep a vehicle away
- Turn off your main utility switch at the main breaker – but do not step into a flood area and handle electrical components
Other tips include paying attention to local media and weather reports, bringing in outdoor furniture, moving essential items to upper floors, knowing the nearest flood shelter location, avoiding parking or camping near rivers, streams and creeks during heavy rainfall events and even consider purchasing flood insurance.
The city’s Office of Emergency Management is stressing that people need to “know, plan, and act” this month, meaning “know” your flood vulnerability, “plan” ahead of time in case your home or business is affected by floods and “act” by sharing your knowledge with friends, family and neighbors.
“Floods can develop slowly, while others can develop in minutes,” said Kevin Simmons, Director of the city’s Office of Emergency Management. “It’s important to be familiar with flooding warning signs including unusually high tides, overflowing rivers and streams, consistent heavy rains, and saturated ground.”
Local leaders also say that people who do not live or work near water still face risks from flooding.READ MORE: Maryland Weather: Severe Storm Threat and Flood Alert Prompts Alert Day Saturday
Residents should also know the difference between a flood watch and a flood warning. A flood watch means that a flood is possible in the area. A flood warning indicates that flooding has already begun or will begin soon.
Despite the frequency of flooding in Annapolis, Guild cautions residents to not let their guard down.
“People sometimes just say, ‘Well, it’s a way of life in Annapolis,’ or anywhere where you’re in a coastal area, but you still need to take proper precautions because your property can be damaged and your safety can be at risk,” she said.
The manager of Annapolis Marine Art Gallery, Deb Nicholson, said that the last major rainfall event in Annapolis in October was surprising to some.
“I think people were surprised that this last event we had around Halloween was as big as it was. I think they haven’t had anything quite that impactful since Isabel,” she told WJZ.
The floodwaters came into the store, but no artwork was lost, Nicholson said. She said they were prepared because of planning and ample warning from the city.
The City of Annapolis is also taking a number of steps now to mitigate the effects of flooding including:
- Applying to the FEMA Community Rating System, which could lower flood insurance bills
- Renewal of the Hazard Mitigation Plan and the drafting of the new Flood Resilience Plan
- Extensive flood protections planned in the vicinity of City Dock (Dock Street and Compromise Street) to include pumping stations and other innovations.
- Building wet wells
- Rerouting storm drains
- Green infrastructure projects like stream, river, and wetland restoration
- Priority projects to address areas deemed vulnerable due to geography, location of critical assets that provide City services (medical, fire, police, roads), and lack of stormwater control in communities that predate stormwater control requirements.