Observer staff report
Spring flooding is a potential hazard every year as ice floes break like jagged pieces of a giant jigsaw puzzle, forming blockages at bridges and tributaries and causing rivers and streams to overflow their banks.
“Flooding is a leading cause of weather-related deaths in the U.S., and most are preventable,” said Chris Bell, director of public health preparedness for the Vermont Department of Health. “Public Health Week (April 7 – 13) is a good time for us all to remind each other not to underestimate the power of water – especially moving water.”
Part of being “Vermont Strong,” Bell said, is to be ready for any hazard, including the possibility of flooding.
Most flooding-related deaths occur when people attempt to drive through flooded roadways or cross moving water. Six inches of moving water can knock down an adult, and 18 inches can carry away a vehicle, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Floodwaters can also contain harmful bacteria, sewage, agricultural or industrial waste, chemicals, metals and other substances, and can contaminate drinking water wells.
The Health Department has extensive information about precautions to take before and after a flood at healthvermont.gov/enviro/water/flood.aspx.
Emergency information about flooding and power outages is also available, in English and 10 other languages, at www.healthvermont.gov/local/rhealth/rh_fact.aspx