Flooding in the southern hemisphere is occurring, lives are lost, and livelihoods are eradicated minute by minute. Floods change lives in many ways; how can you be sure your family is safe from the devastation?
In Rio De Janeiro, at least 400 people are dead and that number will rise as more details become available. Mudslides and raging rivers from days of solid rain have caused these deaths, mass evacuations and are hampering efforts to rescue the survivors.
In Colombo, Sir Lanka, 23 people are dead and almost 40 people have been injured in the watery onslaught on Jan. 13. The people in this country are in the midst of one of the worst natural disasters in their history. Just as many families were restarting their farms in the war-torn nation, the floods are washing out fields for farmers.
In 1972, Hurricane Agnes sped up the eastern coast of the United States, causing damage all over. The storm system stalled out over the New York and Pennsylvania border, dumping massive amounts of rain to the pristine valleys below. Athens, Penn., is five minutes from that border and is my hometown.
Ten to 18 inches of rain fell in a brief period from June 21 to June 24; that rain pushed the Susquehanna River to nearly 41 feet. The levees in that area were only 38 feet tall, and this caused major flooding.
I witnessed firsthand the flooding of both the Chemung and Susquehanna Rivers. These two rivers run beside Athens and connect below town to form one river. In 1972, these two rivers connected and covered the two miles of downtown Athens. Floodwaters in the downtown area reached the second floors in buildings. I remember much about that period, but the thing that stuck me the worst was all the water stretching from one end of town to the other. Of course, the homes, cars, and trees floating down the river also will stick with me forever.
The folks who live in Rio, Sir Lanka, Brisbane, and other areas where flooding has occurred need to take stock of what they have and guard it closely. The safest place to be is on a mountain and away from the edges. In torrential downpours, the edges of the mountains or hills may be prone to mudslides; staying in the middle of the land may be the difference between life and death.
When a storm is predicted, gather up items you need. Stockpile food for a few days, as well as medications. If it appears that you may get evacuated, bag up that food along with a change of clothes per family member. Keep important papers, cash and medications in a back pack so that when an emergency happens you can grab it quickly and leave the area.
Hurricane Agnes in North Eastern Pennsylvania
Wikipedia Page on Hurricane Agnes with stats
Hurricane Agnes Batters Athens Pennsylvania