Yakima County WA Community Homepage


Floods are the most common and widespread of all natural disasters and can occur nearly anywhere in the United States. Flooding along rivers is a natural and inevitable part of life. Knowing the warnings and what they mean could save your life.

A flood potential outlook is issued when forecast meteorological conditions indicate significantly heavy precipitation may occur. The flood potential outlook is generally issued 36 hours or more before the potential event. A flood watch is issued when meteorological conditions raise the threat of flooding, but occurrence is neither certain nor imminent. A "flood watch" is generally issued 12 to 36 hours before the potential event. A flood warning is issued when flooding is expected within 12 hours or is in progress.


  • Do not walk, swim, or drive through flood waters. Turn Around, Don’t Drown!
    • Just six inches of moving water can knock you down, and one foot of moving water can sweep your vehicle away.
  • Stay off of bridges over fast-moving water.
  • Determine how best to protect yourself based on the type of flooding.
    • Evacuate if told to do so.
    • Move to higher ground or a higher floor.
    • Stay where you are.

Take action to protect lives and property immediately. The following are recommendations for before, during, and after a flood.

Please note: The best protection during a flood is to leave the area and go to shelter on higher ground.


  • Find out if you live in a flood-prone area and identify earthen, irrigation, hydro-electric, etc. dams, that are up stream from your area, and could be the source of potential problems.
  • Ask your local emergency manager about official flood warning signals.
  • Know the terms "flood watch," "flood warning," and "urban and small stream warning."
  • Plan for evacuation.
  • Consider purchasing flood insurance.
  • Take steps to flood proof your home. Call your local building department or emergency management office for information.
  • For more information on sandbagging please visit our Sandbag web page here
  • Keep all insurance policies and your household inventory in a safe place.


  • Listen to NOAA Weather Radio, local radio or television stations for information.
  • Be aware of streams, drainage canals and areas known to flood suddenly.
  • If local authorities issue a flood watch, prepare to evacuate.
  • Secure your home. If time permits, secure items located outside the house.
  • If instructed, turn off utilities at the main switches or valves.
  • Fill your car with fuel.
  • Fill the bathtub with water in case water becomes contaminated or services are cut off. Sterilize the bathtub first.
  • Stay away from flood waters.
  • When deep flooding is likely, permit the flood waters to flow freely into your basement to avoid structural damage to the foundation and the house.
  • Do not attempt to drive over flooded roads. The depth of water is not always obvious. The road bed may be washed out under the water, and you could be stranded or trapped.


  • Stay away from flood waters.
  • Stay away from moving water. Moving water 6 inches deep can sweep you off your feet.
  • Be aware of areas where flood waters have receded and may have weakened road surfaces.
  • Stay away from and report downed power lines.
  • Stay away from disaster areas unless authorities ask for volunteers.
  • Continue listening to the radio for event and assistance information.
  • Consider health and safety needs. Wash your hands frequently with soap and clean water if you come in contact with flood waters.
  • Throw away food that has come in contact with flood waters.
  • Call your insurance agent.
  • Take photos of or videotape your belongings and your home.
  • Don't throw away damaged goods until an official inventory has been taken.
Government Websites by CivicPlus®
Arrow Left Arrow Right
Slideshow Left Arrow Slideshow Right Arrow