D12 Responding to floods

DisastersDisaster reliefFloods

Some areas may experience regular flooding. Other areas may suffer unexpected flooding if, for example, a dam wall collapses, a water main pipe breaks or a cyclone strikes.

  • People should be aware of easy escape routes to higher ground and know how to reach emergency shelters. Residents should try to obtain plastic sheeting and timber in order to protect their property.
  • When a flood warning is given, people should put out fires and stoves and turn off all water, gas and electricity supplies. They should move their valuable papers, clothes and possessions onto a roof or to higher ground if possible, before leaving. Seed can be wrapped in plastic bags or sealed clay pots and buried. People should not try to swim to safety as they may be swept away. People should listen to radios for emergency instructions.
  • Floodwaters are usually contaminated with sewage and the dead bodies of animals. After flooding, all exposed food should be thrown away to prevent the spread of disease.

Discussion 
  • Some people choose to build in flood-prone areas because the land is fertile and they can irrigate their crops. Others are pushed into such areas because there is no other land available. They know that flooding is likely. Are there ways that such people could develop relationships with others on higher land in times of flooding. Can the church help in this?
  • How can communities ensure that everybody is aware of how to reach high ground safely and that everyone knows where emergency shelters are located? What transport will be needed to move people unable to walk to safety?
  • Who will be responsible to make sure that the weakest people in the community (the elderly, pregnant women, young children and people with disabilities) are helped to safety?
  • Floodwaters can be very powerful and wash away roads and bridges. However, vehicles as well as people may be washed away in strong flood-waters. How can roads be found during times of flood? (One possible answer may be to plant trees along the edges of roads to help mark their position.)
  • What materials could be used to build rafts or boats to help evacuate people?
  • What can be done if some people, especially elderly people, refuse to leave their homes after a severe flood warning is given?