What is flooding?

Flooding occurs when the level of rivers, lagoons, lakes and oceans rises to the point that water overflows onto nearby areas that are usually dry.


¿Por qué se producen las inundaciones?

Floods are caused by such natural phenomena as rain, tropical storms and hurricanes, but also by human activities such as deforestation and housing construction in low-lying areas next to rivers or in places prone to flooding.

What damage may a flood cause?

a. When flooding happens slowly:

There are fewer casualties.
But many people may be injured.
Crop areas are flooded.
In the long-term, many children will suffer from malnutrition.

b. When flooding happens fast:

There may be many casualties
But fewer people may be injured.
Many houses are destroyed.
Widespread hunger is likely

What to do to prevent flooding?

Follow closely the news from the Meteorological Institute. They will inform us about how long it will rain.
Sometimes it is possible to know when our community will be flooded and how much time there is for preparedness.
Do not build houses next to rivers or in low-lying areas.
If there is no highland available, only build houses on piles (wooden poles).
Do not deforest the riverbanks
If you live in an area next to the rivers, measure their water level. This helps find out if your community is at risk and will permit flood warnings to be issued.

What to do when flooding happens?

The population must be evacuated to a safe place (it could be, for example, a shelter). The evacuation must be organized and well-prepared prior to the flooding. People must carry only what is absolutely necessary, such as clothing, fresh water and food. After a community has been flooded, it will be necessary to seek and rescue people who could not be evacuated.

What to do after a storm or after the raining stops?

It is advisable to stay away from rivers and streams.
Because the occurrence of flash floods is possible, it is not recommended to camp in low-lying areas.
Never cross the river by foot if its water level surpasses your knees.
It is advisable to stay out of flooded areas.
Avoid crossing a river by car if its water level is rising.
If a car is stuck in flooded areas, leave it behind as long as you can do this in a safe manner.
Stay tuned to a radio station to keep yourself informed about weather conditions.

What can we do after the flood?

Do not drink water if it is not clean. Water must be boiled or filtered before drinking it.
Do not eat food that has been in contact with flood water.
Do not visit disaster areas without prior authorization.
Do not use electric equipment in areas that are wet
Keep yourself informed and follow all the directions of the authorities.

What elements do indicate that an alluvium may occur?

The speed of the river flow.
The water level of the river.
The potential appearance of froth and undercurrents.

Bibliographical References

1. Michienzi, Jaquelina. Senior Meteorologist- The Weather Channel of Latin America.
2. Barrios G. Javier, “Desastres Naturales: Manual para agentes comunitarios”. Acción Médica Cristiana. Noviembre, 2000.
3. Acción Médica Cristiana. “Inundaciones ¿Cómo prevenir los daños?”. Nicaragua, Setiembre 1999.
4. Acción Médica Cristiana. “¿Qué hacer cuando ocurre una inundación?. Nicaragua, Setiembre 1999