Georgia Water Science Center
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USGS IN YOUR STATE
USGS Water Science Centers are located in each state.
Chattahoochee River Flood Tracking for Metropolitan Atlanta
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)—in cooperation with other Federal, State, and local agencies—operates a flood monitoring system in the Chattahoochee River Basin. This system is a network of 35 automated river stage stations that transmit stage data through satellite telemetry to the USGS Georgia Water Science Center in Atlanta. Charts for 16 of these stations are shown on this Web site. During floods, the public and emergency response agencies use this information to make decisions about road closures, evacuations, and other public safety issues. The emergency phone number for your area is listed on the more information Web page.
Flood maps and publications from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Federal Insurance Administration are available for review at the local Department of Public Works, Building Permit offices, and local public libraries. The local Department of Public Works and Building Permit office provides flood zone determinations. Research the information provided at these offices before you build or make any attempt to flood proof your home or property.
How do I elevate or flood proof my home?
When elevating or flood proofing new or existing structures, consult a design professional, architect, structural engineer, or licensed contractor for advice. These generally are knowledgeable and experienced in flood-proofing methods.
Many houses, even those not in a floodplain, have sewers that back up during heavy rains. One possible solution is to have a plumber install a plug, stand-pipe, or backup valve. FEMA has published manuals on flood proofing, which are available at your local library.
Flood insurance for homeowners
Regular homeowner’s insurance policies do not cover damage from floods; however, in communities that participate in FEMA's National Flood Insurance Program separate flood insurance is available. This insurance is backed by the Federal Government and is available in the participating communities to everyone, even for properties that have previously flooded. Information about flood insurance is available through local insurance agents. Flood insurance must be purchased 30 days prior to filing any claims.
Some homeowners have purchased flood insurance because it was required when they obtained a mortgage or home improvement loan. These policies may cover only the structure and not the contents. The costs associated with replacing or repairing flood-damaged furnishings could be significant. Check your flood insurance policy to see if your home’s contents are covered; if not, you might want to add this coverage.
Flood safety and property protection measures
If your property is known to flood or is located in a flood-hazard area and flood warnings are issued, take all necessary and appropriate steps to protect your family and property. These include sandbagging; turning off all electrical circuits and gas lines; and elevating furniture, carpets, and appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines, clothes dryers, water heaters, and air-conditioning compressor units.
Surviving during a flood—do’s and don’ts
Do leave if local authorities recommend evacuation. Their advice is based on knowledge of the predicted magnitude of the flood and the potential for death and destruction.
Do not walk through flowing water. Drowning is the number one cause of flood deaths. Water currents can be deceptive; shallow but fast-moving water can knock you off your feet.
Do not drive through a flooded area. More people drown in their cars than anywhere else. Don’t drive around road barriers—they are put up for your protection—the road or bridge beyond the barrier may be washed out.
Do not drink floodwater. Floodwaters carry harmful pollutants and waterborne diseases that can result in illness or death. When flooding interrupts normal drinking-water supply, consider bottled water or treating other forms of safe supply such as spring water, rainfall, or lake and stream water from areas not affected by the flood. Treatment methods include boiling, disinfection, and distillation.
Stay away from power lines and electrical wires. The number two cause of flood deaths is electrocution. Electrical current can travel through water. Report downed power lines to the power company or city/county emergency management office.
Be alert for gas leaks. Use a flashlight to inspect for damage. Don’t smoke or use candles, lanterns, or open flames unless you know the gas has been turned off and the area has been ventilated. Look before you step. Small animals that have been flooded out of their homes may seek shelter in yours, so use caution when entering flooded buildings. Also, floodwaters will cover floors with slippery mud that can contain broken or dangerous objects.
Be extremely cautious using recently flooded electrical equipment. Some appliances such as television sets, keep electrical charges even after they have been unplugged. Don’t use appliances or motors that have gotten wet unless they have been taken apart, cleaned, and dried.
Chattahoochee River Basin Flood Tracking Flyer
The flood-tracking chart for the Chattahoochee River Basin is available as a flyer. You can request a copy from the GaWSC or you can download two PDF files:
The information on this page is provided in the interest of public safety and is taken from various sources including:
American Red Cross, Food and Water in an Emergency: American Red Cross, accessed August 24, 2001 at http://www.redcross.org/services/disaster/beprepared/foodwtr.html .
Baker, R.H., 1997, Don’t build that ark!—Use the chart!: Washington, D.C., Congressman Rickard H. Baker, U.S. House of Representatives, Congress Watch, March 1997 [variously paged].
Federal Emergency Management Agency, 1994, National Flood Insurance Program Community Rating System coordinator’s manual: Indianapolis, Ind., Federal Emergency Management Agency [variously paged].
Learn More About Floods