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Did you know just six inches of rapidly moving water can knock a person down?

Flooding typically occurs when prolonged rain falls over several days, when intense rain falls over a short period of time, or when debris buildup causes a river or stream to overflow onto the surrounding area.  Flooding can also result from the failure of a water control structure, such as a levee or dam.

Since 1900, floods have taken more than 10,000 lives in the United States.  Floods are one of the most common hazards nationwide, however not all floods are alike. Some floods develop slowly, while others such a flash floods, can develop in just a few minutes without visible signs of rain.  Additionally, floods can be local, impacting a neighborhood or community, or very large, affecting multiple states.  Flood-prone areas have been identified in 267 cities and towns and in all of Colorado’s 64 counties.  Colorado is susceptible to wildfires, which also makes our state susceptible to flooding in heavily eroded burn areas.  It accumulates quicker than soil can absorb it. What makes flooding exceptionally difficult for individuals is that flood damage is not covered by traditional homeowners’ insurance policies. This can leave the unprepared exceptionally vulnerable to financial hardship following a flood event.  There is a 30-day waiting period before flood insurance goes into effect, so don’t delay.

Additionally, familiarizing yourself with the terms below may help with what to expect so you can properly prepare.

  • Flood Watch ─ Flooding is possible. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio or television for information.
  • Flash Flood Watch ─ Flash flooding is possible. Be prepared to move to higher ground; listen to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio or television for 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; seek higher ground on foot immediately.

Explore the information below to learn what you can do to prepare your home for a flood, including how to get flood insurance.

Photos courtesy of the Colorado National Guard, FEMA/Steve Zumwalt and FEMA/Steve Zumwalt - Jamestown during September 2013 flood.