County of Hawaii - Flood Awareness

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During a Flood

Street sign with text "when flooded turn around don't drown"More people drown in their cars than anywhere else during a flood.

If a flood is likely in your area:

  • Follow the advice and instructions of local authorities.
  • Remember that a Flood Watch means flooding or flash flooding are possible. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio and Hawai‘i County Civil Defense messages on local radio or television stations for information.
    • A Flash Flood Watch means flash flooding is possible. Be prepared to move to higher ground and listen to NOAA Weather Radio and Hawai‘i County Civil Defense messages on local radio or television stations for information.
    • A Flood Warning means flooding is occurring or will occur soon; if advised to evacuate, do so immediately.
    • A Flash Flood Warning means a flash flood is occurring; seek higher ground on foot immediately.
  • Be aware of streams, drainage channels, gulches and other areas known to flood suddenly. Flash floods can occur in these areas with or without such typical warnings as rain clouds or heavy rain.
  • If you must prepare to evacuate, secure your home and be ready to put into action your family disaster and evacuation plans.
  • Leave immediately if advised to evacuate or if you think you are in danger.
  • If you have time, bring in outdoor furniture and move essential items to an upper floor.
  • Turn off utilities at the main switches or valves if instructed to do so. Disconnect electrical appliances. Do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.

Floodwaters surround a vehicle near Hilo's bayfront.

If you are outdoors:

  • Stay out of areas subject to flooding.
  • Climb to high ground and stay there.
  • Don’t walk through a flooded area. Just six inches of moving water can sweep you off your feet. If you have to walk in water, walk where the water is not moving. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.
  • Keep away from downed power lines and any other electrical wires—electrocution is often a major cause of death in floods.

Floodwaters recede leaving vehicles high and dry after 2007 floods in South Kona.

Driving Flood Facts:

  • Almost half of all flash flood fatalities occur in vehicles.
  • Don’t drive through flooded areas. Turn around, don’t drown. If floodwaters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground if you can do so safely. You and the vehicle can be quickly swept away.
    • Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars causing you to lose control of or stall your vehicle.
    • A foot of water will float many vehicles.
    • Two feet of water will carry away most vehicles, including SUVs and pickup trucks.
  • If you come upon a barricaded or flooded road, Turn Around and Don’t Drown ™.

See: The Hidden Danger: Low Water Crossing (PDF) (96074E). National Weather Service brochure describing the hazards of driving your vehicle in flood conditions.