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The City of Portland, Oregon

Fire & Rescue

Always Ready, Always There

Phone: 503-823-3700

Fax: 503-823-3710

55 SW Ash Street, Portland, OR 97204

More Contact Info

September is National Preparedness Month: True or False: Flooding Only Occurs Near Rivers, Streams, and Other Waterways



Any low lying area has the potential to flood.  Inundation flooding may occur when the amount of rainfall and runoff exceeds a stormwater system's (ditch or sewer) capability to remove it.



Vernonia, Oregon

December 2007

Floods claim an average of 263 lives every year in the United States. Portland Fire & Rescue and the Portland Water Bureau encourage citizens to use the tools below to help minimize the loss of life and property:

Tools to Use Today

Information below courtesy of the Portland Water Bureau

  • Find out if you live in a flood prone area.
  • Identify any dams or levees in your area.
  • Purchase flood insurance for your home if you are in a flood plain, and consider purchasing it even if you’re not. Flood damage and loss is not covered under a homeowner’s policy. There may be as much as a 30 day waiting period before the policy comes into effect, so don’t wait until the last minute to apply.
  • Make an itemized list of all of your personal property, including furnishings, clothing, and valuables. Take pictures or videos of your home, inside and out, as well as its contents, especially high value items. The pictures will help in settling insurance claims and in documenting uninsured losses, which are tax deductible. Keep your insurance policies, pictures or video tapes, and lists of your personal property in a safe place.
  • Put together a 72-hour disaster supply kit. Contact your emergency management office for a list of suggested supplies.
  • Take steps to reduce the risk of flood damage to your home. If you live in an area that floods frequently, store materials such as sandbags, plywood, plastic sheeting, and lumber to use to protect your property. Contact your local building department or emergency management office for more information on how to protect your home.
  • Plan how you would evacuate from your home when there is a threat of flooding. What you would take with you, what is the safest route, and where would you go?

Flood Safety

  • During heavy or prolonged rains, listen to the TV or radio (or weather radio) for watches and warnings issued by the National Weather Service. Keep a battery-operated radio on hand and tuned to a local station in case the power goes out.
  • If you see any possibility of a flash flood occurring, move immediately to high ground. Don’t wait for instructions to evacuate.
  • Don’t walk through flood waters.  One foot of flood water can knock you off your feet, and the water is often contaminated by sewage and flood-related chemical spills.
  • Never go around safety barricades set up in the road. Two feet of water is enough to float a car, and the flood waters can conceal places where roadways and bridges have been washed out.

When It Floods

  • Keep a battery-powered radio tuned to a local station and follow all emergency instructions.
  • If directed to evacuate and time permits, turn off all utilities (gas, water, and electricity) at the main switch or valve.
  • Move personal property, especially valuables, to upper floors or higher elevations or stack them on top of other items.
  • Secure all outdoor equipment, furniture, and other movable objects that might be swept away.
  • Store fresh water and food.
  • Gather the items you plan on taking with you during an evacuation (e.g., important papers, 72 hour kits) in one location or load them in your vehicle.

For further information on steps to take after a flood, visit


  Portland Fire & Rescue We Respond: Always Ready, Always There

  September 7, 2010


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