Flash Flood on May 15th, 2023
Monday morning, May 15th, Seminole was hit by a flash flood event. Flash flooding occurs in Seminole when the area receives more than 2 inches of rain per hour, as observed over the years. In this particular event, the storm brought heavy rainfall in a short period, causing the flood. Compounding the situation, the ground was already saturated from previous rains in the preceding week.
“Unfortunately, we saw results of the damage mother nature can do. The good news is that no one was hurt in this event. In some cases limbs float down drainage areas and can clog key watershed zones during the storm. Without the street crews keeping the streets clear of debris, it could have been much worse. Much of the significant flooding in the Grisso area was caused by dislodged fence panels being installed in sensitive flood prone areas,” said City Manager Steve Saxon.
Seminole Street Department works diligently throughout the year to keep stormwater infrastructure clean. Residents play an important role in preventing floods by disposing of debris properly. “We appreciate that city council has funded the critical equipment needed to perform the necessary work to prevent the floods. We also value when Seminole residents work with us to fix a drainage issue. This is sometimes reporting problems on Citizen Problem Reporter, and other times hiring a contractor to fix their private property,” said Public Works Director Bryant Baker.
Seminole Fire Department deployed water rescues on Monday. “We are thankful that city council has allowed us to train for floodwater rescues. The training was vital and came into play during this last flash flood,” said Assistant Fire Chief Scott Childers.
FEMA has located and mapped areas known as floodplains, where water can gather and pool while it waits to proceed downstream. The highway frontage of Municipal Park is one of those places, designed to hold the flood water temporarily. Seminole has several floodplain areas in town, including neighborhoods and retail areas.
Over the years FEMA flood management has changed from keeping flood waters away from people to keeping people away from flood waters. City of Seminole has two Certified Floodplain Managers on staff, whose job it is to make sure current construction does not obstruct any floodwater paths. A flood map for the City of Seminole is available online on the city’s website. A direct link to the map is “seminole.tiny.us/floodmap”.
Sharon Emmitt, Community Development Director and Floodplain Manager, said, “Every year, there is a 1% or more chance that properties located in a FEMA floodplain will be under water. This used to be called the ‘100 year floodplain’, but FEMA changed it to 1%, since occurrences happen more than once every one hundred years. It is possible businesses and residences located in the floodplain will all fall victim to the 1% chance at some point in time.”
The best defense against flooding is a proactive offense. It is crucial to consult with city officials and thoroughly evaluate the risk of building in flood-prone areas. Residents also need to follow drainage ordinances and dispose of debris properly. Responsible construction practices and an understanding of flood management guidelines can contribute to minimizing the impact of flood events.
If a person's home has been damaged during a flash flood, here are some general steps they should consider taking:
1. Ensure Safety: Prioritize personal safety and evacuate the property if necessary. Do not re-enter the home until authorities confirm it is safe to do so.
2. Document the Damage: Take photographs or videos of the flood damage for insurance purposes and make a detailed inventory of damaged belongings.
3. Contact Insurance Provider: Notify your insurance company about the flood damage and initiate the claims process. Provide them with the necessary documentation and follow their instructions.
4. Mitigate Further Damage: Take steps to prevent additional damage, such as removing standing water, drying out affected areas, and securing the property to prevent further intrusion.
5. Seek Professional Assistance: Consult with qualified professionals, such as water damage restoration experts or contractors, to assess the extent of the damage and assist with cleanup and repairs.
It is important to note that specific actions may vary based on the severity of the flood and local guidelines.