flood savvy.com

Flash Floods versus Tornadoes

Flash Floods

A flash flood is a sudden local flood, that happens in low lying areas. The main cause’s of flash floods are heavy rain, and excessive snow melt. Out of all the different types of flooding, flash floods are considered the most dangerous because they they can occur just after 5 minutes of heavy rainfall. The flash flood water often moves at high speeds and can carry debris as big as trees or cars down the road. Although you may not hear about flash floods very often, there are hundreds a year in the United States alone every year.

Over the last 30 years, on average 86 people die in flash floods a year. Additionally, these floods also push around 75,000 Americans out of their homes each year. The best advice for how to make it out of a flash flood is to try and get to high ground, and try and avoid the flood water.

Flash floods are the most dangerous kind of floods, because they combine the destructive power of a flood with incredible speed. Flash floods occur when heavy rainfall exceeds the ability of the ground to absorb it. 

The National Severe Storms Laboratory


Tornado Safety

Tornadoes are a natural disaster that occurs when warm humid air collides with dry, cold air. Tornados can travel at speeds between 65 and 200 MPH. Each year there are around 1000 tornados in America, killing an average of 71 people a year in America.

Although tornados happen almost everywhere in the world, the most frequent place is America, more specifically tornado ally. Tornado ally is the nick name for the area of the central US between the Appalachian mountains and the Rocky mountains where the most frequent strong tornados occur.

However, the idea of a “tornado alley” can be misleading. The U.S. tornado threat shifts from the Southeast in the cooler months of the year, toward the southern and central Plains in May and June, and the northern Plains and Midwest during early summer. Tornadoes can occur and have been reported in all fifty states!

The National Severe Storm Laboratory

If you ever find yourself stuck in a tornado, the best thing to do is try and go underground, such as a basement. This should protect you from the tornado. One thing you should make sure to avoid is being close to windows since there is a good chance they will get blown out by the tornado and you could get cut from the glass.


Sea level rise

Rising Tides: 5 Coastal Cities Facing Major Impacts

Due to the affects of global warming, sea levels have started to rise at a rapid rate. Globally the sea is rising at a rate of 3.6mm a year, but in some parts of the world it is rising at a much faster pace.

Many cities around the globe will be impacted by rising sea levels. Below are a few of the primary cities slated for a major impact in the United States.

New Orleans, Louisiana

Photo credit: FEMA/ New Orleans flooding after Hurricane Katrina August 2005

New Orleans is a city which has been hit by big storm after big storm in the past 20 years, Hurricane Katrina being the most notable one in 2005. What makes New Orleans so prone to flooding is the fact that some areas of the city lie 15 feet below the sea level. It also doesn’t help that the city is on a river delta and bordering the Atlantic Ocean. There was even a study conducted by NASA in 2016 shwoing some parts of the city are already sinking at a rate of 2 inches per year.

New York City, New York

Flood image from Hurricane Sandy
Photo credit: FloodSavvy.com/ Flooding in Queens post Hurricane Sandy

Although all of New York City is at risk of flooding in the next 100 years, Queens is borough at greatest risk. As of now, it is estimated by the year 2045, 2700 homes may begin to experience chronic flooding in this borough. One of the five boroughs making up NYC, Queens has the largest land area and is second in terms of total population.

“Hurricane Sandy had a devastating impact across the city … 44 New Yorkers lost their lives, close to 90,000 buildings were in the inundation zone, 2 million people lost power and the city sustained close to $19 billion in damages” – Jainey Bavishi, Director of Recovery and Resiliency.

Jainey Bavishi, Director of Recovery and Resiliency

Miami, Florida

Inland flood threat increasing in South Florida | NSF - National Science  Foundation

Right now Miami is in a race against time to keep its city from becoming completely flooded. Already the city’s sea levels are rising fast enough to damage houses and roadways. It is estimated that in the next 30 years, 12,000 homes will become completely flooded, and that by 2100, the sea level will rise up to six feet, displacing 800,000 locals.

Charleston, South Carolina

Flooding in North Carolina

As sea levels continue to rise around the globe, some cities, like Charleston, South Carolina, will start to become completely underwater. Since 1950, the sea level off the city’s coastline has continued to rise. Currently it is roughly 10 inches higher. It is estimated that by the year 2050, 77% of the city’s population might be under water.

“Sea level will rise, storms will increase, and rainfall will be more intense as evidenced by recent hurricane-driven flooding disasters. This is the new normal and it is imperative to plan for these eventualities.”

Phillip Dustan, Professor, Department of Biology, College of Charleston; Faculty, University of Charleston

Virginia Beach

Photo credit: FEMA/

No city in America right now is facing higher rising sea levels than Virginia Beach. Virginia Beach is so at risk from flooding primarliy due to its location between the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Right now it is estimated that the beach could see sea levels rise by up to 12 feet by the year 2100.

Sea Level Rise Since 1950

Sea level rise.org


Flood Insurance: Government (NFIP) vs Private

Typically a person gets flood insurance to cover some costs of flood induced damage to your home and other personal items.There are two types of flood insurance, government flood insurance and private flood insurance. For the most part, flood insurance is insured by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and is managed by FEMA, but some people go a different path and get private flood insurance.

NFIP (FEMA) Flood Insurance

Some of the reasons to get federal flood insurance include its wide range of availability, and the reliable coverage. The downsides include, not being able to get coverage if you have to flee your house and relocate, and your claim is usually limited to $250,000 for personal residences and $100,000 for contents. It is important to note that flood insurance has two different parts – dwelling and contents – and they MUST be purchaesd seperately.

How much does it cost? Well that depends on where you live and where your property is on the FEMA Flood maps. However, if you do purchase a FEMA flood insurance policy it will cost the same no matter where you get it. The cost does not differ from agency to agency. It is solely based on the address of your property you are trying to insure.

Private Flood Insurance

The pros of private flood insurance are being able to claim over $250,000, and getting coverage for your additional living expenses if needed. For example, if you have to move out of your property after a flood for renovations, some or all of those costs may be covered. Another benefit is the waiting time for your policy to take effect: 15 days for private insurance vs. the 30 day waiting period required for NFIP insurance.

The cons to private insurance however are your insurance company denying to renew your flood insurance policy if you are deemed too risky, and it not being available to everyone. In contrast NFIP insurance can not cancel your flood policy, buy may raise the rates based on how many and how much you claim for a flooding evert.

Floods can happen anywhere — just one inch of floodwater can cause up to $25,000 in damage. Most homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage. Flood insurance is a separate policy that can cover buildings, the contents in a building, or both, so it is important to protect your most important financial assets — your home, your business, your possessions.


The Five Types of Floods

For the most part there are 5 different types of floods, flash foods, coastal floods, urban floods, River floods, and ponding floods.

# 1 Flash Flood

Flash floods are floods caused by heavy rainfall or rapid snow melt. They can happen almost out of no where sometimes and occur within few minutes of rainfall but generally last for no longer than 6 hours. The flood water can be very powerful and sometimes can even move cars.

#2 River Flood

River floods occur when excess rain fall and snow melt move downstream causing an overlap on the banks. This overlap then spills the extra water onto the nearby land.

# 3 Coastal flood

When ever there is a coastal process such as waves, tide, storm surge, or heavy rainfall from coastal storms create a flood, it is referred to as Coastal flooding. Coastal flooding tends to be the most extreme when the storm surge is high.

# 4 Pluvial Flood

Pluvial floods happen when there is flooding independent from an overflowing body of water due to extreme rain fall. The most common example of this is when the drainage system is overwhelmed and the excess water pours out into the streets.

# 5 Urban Flood

Urban flooding is flooding that is caused by excess runoff water in developed areas, where the water doesn’t have any where else to go.

VIDEO: Tsunami Flooding

This tsunami above is from Japan in 2011

Flooding can be caused in a number of ways, but one of the more extreme yet uncommon ways is from tsunamis. A tsunami is a series of waves caused by underwater volcanic explosions and earthquakes. These waves, however, are much bigger and more powerful than regular waves.

The waves tend to be between 10-100 feet tall, and travel between 20-30MPH. These waves often travel far inland, sometimes even more than a mile causing large amounts of damage.

Hawaii is always at great risk for a tsunami – they get about 1 per year and a severe one every 7 years. The biggest tsunami that occurred Hawaii happened in 1946, the coast of Hilo Island was hit with 30 ft waves at 500 mph.

Do something.org

Most of the time the flooding will last between 5 minutes to two hours but sometimes the flooding can last for days.


Is Global Warming Making Flooding Worse?

One of the effects of global warming is increased flooding.

Throughout time, society has become more and more industrialized, and global warming has really started to make an impact on our environment. As the effects of global warming are starting to be seen around the world, one aspect of our environment that is going to change are natural disasters, or more specifically flooding. One thing that long term climate change does is make for more extreme weather patterns.

Recent trends according to NOAA

As global temperatures rise, so will the amount of rainfall because the warmer the atmosphere the more rainfall an area will receive. This might be problematic for flooding since the main cause of floods is excessive rainfall. The NOAA actually went in and examined the record breaking rainfall in Louisiana in 2016 and came to the conclusion that the rains were 10% more intense due to climate change. This trend is only expected to increase in the future as temperatures continue to rise unless we can find a solution to stop or slow down global warming.

A warmer atmosphere holds and subsequently dumps more water. As the country has heated up an average of 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit since 1901, it has also become about 4 percent wetter, with the eastern half of the United States growing soggiest. In the Northeast, the most extreme storms generate approximately 27 percent more moisture than they did a century ago. Basically, because of global warming, when it rains, it pours more.

Melissa Denchak, Natural Resources Defense Council

Flooded roadway

10 Tips for Driving Through Flood Water

After heavy rainfall, the roadways can sometimes become flooded with water and you might have a difficult time trying to drive through the water. In some instances cars can be overpowered by the water and be left useless.

Flooded roadway
Flash floods cause major driving hazards

“If you don’t know how deep the water is, then don’t drive through it. The best plan is to park your car on the highest ground possible and take shelter. If a vehicle is driven through standing water, a driver risks flooding the engine, warping brake rotors, loss of power steering, or a short in the electrical components of the car, all of which can be costly to repair.”

Moore, AAA spokeswoman
FloodSavvy.com/flooded roadway
Flooded roadways can mean big trouble when driving

Here are 10 tips on how to avoid getting your car stuck in flood water.

# 1- Try and avoid still water if possible.

#2- Use your fog lights, these can really improve your visibility in flood conditions.

#3- Leave doubble the space in between you and the car ahead of you since your breaks wont work as good.

#4- Test your breaks, often in deep water the breaks will fail.

#5- Do not drive into moving flood water if its deeper than 4 inches, moving water can sometimes be surprisingly strong so it is best not to test how strong the water is with your car.

#6- Do not drive fast, drive slow to not make a bow wave and to avoid aquaplaning.

#7- If your car does manage to get stuck, most of the time it is better to sit in the car and wait for help.

#8- Drive in the middle of the road, most of the time it is higher elevated than the sides.

#9- Try and drive right behind another car, doing this will create a bit of a wake for you and your car will get better traction this way.

#10- If you see any fallen power lines, avoid the street at all costs, if these wires are still live they will have the chance to seriously injure a person.

The Danger of Flash Floods

There are a few different types of floods, and one of the most dangerous variations is the flash floods. Flash floods are when there is an overflow of water onto dry land caused by heavy and excessive rain fall in a short period of time. What makes these floods so dangerous is a lot of the time you can’t really prepare for them since they happen on such short notice and the fact that the water usually moves at very high speeds.

Flash floods are the most deadly type of floods, killing more people annually than tornados, hurricanes, and lightning. This video above showcases some examples of flash floods from this past year. The video shows just how dangerous these floods can really be and how they can happen almost out of no where.

The best response to any signs of flash flooding is to move immediately and quickly to higher ground. Cars can be easily be swept away in just 2 feet of moving water. If flood waters rise around a car, it should be abandoned. Passengers should climb to higher ground.

House Elevation

House Lift Video: 17 Feet in 3 Minutes

Planet Three Elevation: P3Elevation condenses 100 days of work into a three minute video

Watch this incredible video footage that condenses 100 days of a house lift elevation project into a tidy three minute video. The house is in Seguin, Texas just outside of San Antonio. Unlike our house lift experience, this house sat on a concrete slab. There were a few other significant differences between this video and our house lift project. First, this house was all one level, making a slab lift an option. Second, and this is a big one, the property in the video was level and large, supplying ample room for trucks and workers to work their magic.

“100 days of work condensed to 3 minutes. We lifted this large 2-story home using unified jacking system. This home and surrounding sidewalks (now decks) has 10 slab segments which rest permanently on steel beams and concrete columns. Note the work precision as the elevation is executed. The Planet Three Elevation team’s experience enables consistency and precision of process execution which enables quality in the finished product.”

P3 Elevation

No two lift projects are ever the same, but they all offer the same benefit: safety from flooding and peace of mind.


Maria Downgraded to a Tropical Storm

Hurricane MARIA: Hurricane Maria has finally pushed out to sea and good riddance. The Hurricane carved a path of destruction in its wake that will take years to unravel. Prior to completely bidding a farewell, tropical storm force winds  will be disturbing the coast so an advisory remains in effect.

Hurricane LEE: Earlier this morning Hurricane Lee was upgraded to Hurricane status making it the fifth major hurricane in the Atlantic for 2017. This category 3 storm is not expected to make landfall on the eastern seaboard. Yesterday Hurricane Lee was east-southeast about 485 miles off the coast of Bermuda. It is expected to continue to push north east and on out over the Atlantic Ocean.

Tracking Hurricane Maria

Hurricane Maria has been officially downgraded to Tropical Storm Maria as it is set of move offshore of the eastern United States. This is the probable path the storm will follow. Caution is advised for anyone on or near the coastline as high sea surges and strong rip tides may be in play.

Storm Definitions according to the National Hurricane Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA): 

D: Tropical Depression – wind speed less than 39 MPH
S: Tropical Storm – wind speed between 39 MPH and 73 MPH
H: Hurricane – wind speed between 74 MPH and 110 MPH
M: Major Hurricane – wind speed greater than 110 MPH


Puerto Rico After the Hurricanes: How You Can Help

Flood Savvy.com

Hurricane Maria had a direct hit on Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017

Puerto Rico: The Caribbean Island, home to nearly 3.4 million Americans, is facing near total destruction following last week’s mind-bending Hurricane Maria. Many are filled with empathy for the citizens of Puerto Rico, but are not sure how they can help.

Below is a list of organizations working tirelessly to help support, rebuild, and supply the bare necessities.


Many organizations are looking for cold hard cash. This gives them the opportunity to get and give exactly what is needed.

United For Puerto Rico 


All Hands Volunteers


Save the Children

One America Appeal This charity is spearheaded by numerous former USA Presidents


From bottled water to diapers to building supplies, there is almost nothing Puerto Rico does not need right now. The National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD) is coordinating many of these donations here (and corporate giving here).


It’s a little too soon for volunteers on the ground to assist with recovery as the airport is working on a a very limited schedule and the infrastructure on the island is not prepared to handle, house, or meet any of the needs a volunteer would need. But soon …

Check back with VOAD for more details as they become available.

As always, it is a good idea to do a little of your own research to determine which charity is the right one for you. A good place to look is Charity Navigator.



Puerto Rico Receives Help from NYC First Responders After Hurricane Maria

On Wednesday, September 20, 2018, Hurricane Maria slammed into the island of Puerto Rico. This was the strongest hurricane to strike the island in over 80 years. Hurricane Maria left near apocalyptic conditions  in its wake: toppled power lines, extensive flooding, and utter devastation to so many homes and structures. Even basic necessities such as fresh water, fuel and phone service have been interrupted, resulting in a growing humanitarian crisis.

Help on the Way:  According to NBC 4 New York, First Responders from New York City flew down to Puerto Rico this past Saturday, September 23. Their goal is to assist the island’s overwhelmed emergency management center. This will no doubt be a protracted clean-up effort as Puerto Rico works to rebuild.

“This is total devastation. Puerto Rico, in terms of the infrastructure, will not be the same. … This is something of historic proportions.”

Carlos Mercader, spokesman for Puerto Rico’s governor

Evacuating due to flooding in Puerto Rico post Hurricane Maria.
Credit: Jose Rodrigo Madera for CNN



Top 10 Tax Tips for Deducting Losses From a Disaster

“If you suffer damage to your home or personal property, you may be able to deduct these “casualty” losses on your federal income tax return. A casualty is a sudden, unexpected or unusual event, such as a natural disaster (hurricane, tornado, flood, earthquake, etc.), fire, accident, theft or vandalism.” IRS

IRS Tax: Top 10 Tips for Deducting Losses from a Disaster

  1. Casualty loss.  You may be able to deduct losses based on the damage done to your property during a disaster. A casualty is a sudden, unexpected or unusual event. This may include natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and earthquakes. It can also include losses from fires, accidents, thefts or vandalism.
  2. Normal wear and tear.  A casualty loss does not include losses from normal wear and tear. It does not include progressive deterioration from age or termite damage.
  3. Covered by insurance.  If you insured your property, you must file a timely claim for reimbursement of your loss. If you don’t, you cannot deduct the loss as a casualty or theft. You must reduce your loss by the amount of the reimbursement you received or expect to receive.
  4. When to deduct.  As a general rule, you must deduct a casualty loss in the year it occurred. However, if you have a loss from a federally declared disaster area, you may have a choice of when to deduct the loss. You can choose to deduct the loss on your return for the year the loss occurred or on an amended return for the immediately preceding tax year. Claiming a disaster loss on the prior year’s return may result in a lower tax for that year, often producing a refund.
  5. Amount of loss.  You figure the amount of your loss using the following steps:
    • Determine your adjusted basis in the property before the casualty. For property you buy, your basis is usually its cost to you. For property you acquire in some other way, such as inheriting it or getting it as a gift, you must figure your basis in another way. For more see Publication 551, Basis of Assets.
    • Determine the decrease in fair market value, or FMV, of the property as a result of the casualty. FMV is the price for which you could sell your property to a willing buyer. The decrease in FMV is the difference between the property’s FMV immediately before and immediately after the casualty.
    • Subtract any insurance or other reimbursement you received or expect to receive from the smaller of those two amounts.
  6. $100 rule.  After you have figured your casualty loss on personal-use property, you must reduce that loss by $100. This reduction applies to each casualty loss event during the year. It does not matter how many pieces of property are involved in an event.
  7. 10 percent rule.  You must reduce the total of all your casualty or theft losses on personal-use property for the year by 10 percent of your adjusted gross income.
  8. Future income.  Do not consider the loss of future profits or income due to the casualty as you figure your loss.
  9. Form 4684.  Complete Form 4684, Casualties and Thefts, to report your casualty loss on your federal tax return. You claim the deductible amount on Schedule A, Itemized Deductions.
  10. Business or income property.  Some of the casualty loss rules for business or income property are different than the rules for property held for personal use.

You can call the IRS disaster hotline at 866-562-5227 for special help with disaster-related tax issues. For more on this topic and the special rules for federally declared disaster area losses see Publication 547, Casualties, Disasters, and Thefts. You can get it and IRS tax forms on IRS.gov/forms at any time.

For more information visit the IRS site.