Flood Safety


Before a Flood

Find out if your property is in a flood-prone area. Contact your local office of community development or emergency management for assistance in determining this.

  • Albany Community Development, 541-917-7551
  • Benton County Community Development, 541-766-6819
  • Corvallis Community Development, 541-766-6981
  • Philomath Planning Office, 541-929-6148
  • Benton County Emergency Management, 541-766-6864
  • Linn County Emergency Management, 541-967-3950

Purchase flood insurance to protect your property. If you live in the floodplain you are eligible to purchase NFIP flood insurance. In some cases you may be required to carry flood insurance. Contact your insurance company or agent or call the NFIP at 1-800-638-6620, TDD# 1-800-447-9487.

Develop and maintain a 7-day emergency preparedness kit. Keep emergency supplies gathered in a portable and flood/rodent-proof container with food, water, safety and hygiene supplies for all family members (see more information on creating a family emergency/disaster kit).

Prepare an evacuation plan. Before the floodwaters arrive, develop a household evacuation plan that includes a designated meeting place outside as well as an escape route out of the floodplain and away from floodwaters.

Know how and under what circumstances to turn off utilities. Keep appropriate tools, including an adjustable wrench, where they will be readily accessible when they are needed.

During a Flood

Listen for flooding announcements and information. Tune your radio to 550 AM KOAC or the local Cable TV channel for announcements and updates about flood events. Many other local radio and television stations carry Emergency Alert System (EAS) broadcasts as well.

Avoid areas that are subject to flooding. Check with local authorities (public works, department of transportation) to determine affected areas, road closures and/or high water warnings. For information regarding County roads, contact the County Public Works Department at 541-766-6821. The Oregon Department of Transportation provides road condition information with live cameras.

Do not walk through flowing water. Drowning is the number one cause of flood deaths, most of which occur during flash floods. Currents can be deceptive; six inches of moving water can knock you off your feet. If you walk in standing water, use a pole or stick to ensure that the ground is still there.

Do not drive through flooded areas. More people drown in their cars than anywhere else. Never drive around road barriers; the road or bridge may be washed out or the water may conceal another hazard. If your vehicle stalls in high water, abandon it immediately and seek higher ground.

Stay away from power lines and electrical wires. The number two flood killer after drowning is electrocution. Electrical current can travel through water. Report downed power lines to the Power Company or local authorities immediately.

Shut off gas and electricity and move valuable property upstairs. Some appliances, such as television sets, keep electrical charge even after they have been unplugged. Don’t use appliances or motors that have gotten wet unless they have been taken apart, cleaned and dried.

After a Flood

Look before you step. After a flood the ground and floors may be covered with debris including broken bottles and nails. Floors and stairs that have been covered with mud can be very slippery.

Be alert for gas leaks. Use a flashlight to inspect for damage. Don’t use smoke or candles, lanterns or open flames unless you know that the gas has been turned off and the area has been ventilated.

Clean everything that got wet. Floodwaters pick up sewage and chemicals from roads, farms, factories and storage buildings. Spoiled food, flooded cosmetics and medicine can be health hazards. When in doubt, throw them out.

Look out for animals, especially snakes. Small animals that have been flooded out of their homes may seek shelter in yours. Use a pole or a stick to poke and turn things over and scare away small animals.

What to do if an Evacuation is Ordered

  • Evacuate the flood hazard area in times of impending flood or when advised to do so by authorities.
  • Turn off all electric circuits at the fuse panel or disconnect switches. If this is not possible, turn off or disconnect all electrical appliances. Shut off water services and gas valves in your home.
  • Be prepared in advance with a detailed checklist – warning of an impending flood may provide little time for preparation prior to evacuation.

Flood Advisories, Watches and Warnings

Watches and Warnings are issued by the National Weather Service and can alert communities to the threat of conditions that are favorable to hazardous weather. Forecasts, advisories, watches and warnings may be obtained via local radio (550 AM KOAC) and television stations, the National Weather Service website for Portland or via NOAA Weather Radio that broadcasts forecasts and warnings 24 hours a day.

Advisories are issued for less serious weather conditions that may cause inconvenience, but life and property are usually not at risk if caution is exercised.

A Watch means that conditions are favorable for the development of hazardous weather. Flood watches are issued 12 to 72 hours in advance of an event where conditions are favorable for flooding, but flooding is not certain. In other words, the risk for dangerous weather has increased significantly, but its location and/or timing are still uncertain. Due to this uncertainty, watches cover general areas. A watch may be upgraded to a warning, downgraded to an advisory, or canceled.

Warnings mean hazardous weather is occurring, imminent, or has a very high probability of occurrence. Flood warnings are issued when a river is expected to reach flood stage. Warnings are issued for weather conditions that pose a threat to life and property. Warnings may be extended in time or area coverage or canceled.