What is flooding?
Flooding can occur under a number of circumstances. Often, heavy rains cause rivers, lakes, and streams to overflow their banks. Other times, flooding can be the result of overwhelmed drainage systems or caused by storm surge from land-falling hurricanes or tropical storms. Many parts of Mexico, including several boroughs of the Distrito Federal, are subject to severe flooding. On an almost yearly basis, the city of Chalco in the State of Mexico is subjected to flooding. Due to an antiquated drainage system and a predisposition to flooding due to adverse topography, many Chalco residents see their homes flooded by sewage-tinted water. Unfortunately, this situation can be repeated in many cities, towns, and villages throughout Mexico.
What can I do to prepare for a flood?
- Create an emergency plan. This includes establishing meeting points, should any family members become separated, evacuation routes, and collecting a disaster kit. For more information on creating an emergency plan and a disaster kit, please visit www.Ready.gov.
- Register your trip with the nearest Embassy or Consulate. In the event of an emergency, American consular officers can assist you by warning you of possible crises, keeping you updated on events in the area, helping you contact friends and family in the US, and even making evacuation plans when necessary. To register, visit https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs/ui/
- Educate yourself about the risk of flooding to your residence. If you live in a low-lying area or near bodies of water, you need to be prepared for the possibility of flooding and to respond accordingly.
- If the possibility exists that your home may become flooded, establish a designated safe area where you and members of your household can go in the event of an emergency. Ensure that your safe area is located on higher ground and will not be affected by flooding.
- Be especially vigilant during the rainy season, as flooding can occur with very little notice.
- Keep important documents (passports, birth certificates, identifications, etc.) in waterproof bags or pouches. Should your home flood without you being able to prepare, damage to these documents will be limited.
What can I do to protect myself during a flood?
- Pay special attention to local media broadcasts and alerts issued by local authorities. If there is a serious risk of flooding, civil protection authorities may issue a “Heavy Rain Alert” (“Alerta de lluvias intensas”). If one of these warnings is issued, be prepared to act quickly to prepare your home and family.
- Secure loose items outside your home, such as trashcans and patio furniture, to ensure that they will not float away.
- Ensure that you have plentiful water on hand for your entire household for the purposes of drinking and sanitation. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends having 2 gallons of water on hand per person, per day.
- Do not attempt to drive through flooded areas. It only takes one foot of moving water to sweep a vehicle away. Remember this simple phrase: Turn Around, Don’t Drown.
- Heed all evacuation orders from civil protection authorities. In the event that you do evacuate your home, take the following steps:
- Disconnect utilities
- Ensure that the doors and windows of your house are securely locked.
- Before you leave, make sure that your evacuation route is passable.
- If you find yourself trapped, go to the highest point of your residence and wait to be rescued.
What can I do to protect myself in the aftermath of a flood?
- Avoid walking or swimming in flooded areas. Flood waters can be contaminated with sewage and other pollutants that can be detrimental to your health.
- Do not attempt to traverse flooded areas, as the force of the moving water could be much stronger than you expect.
- If you are in need of immediate assistance, call the US Embassy in Mexico City. If you are safe and do not need emergency help, please refrain from calling the embassy. The more open lines exist, the easier it will be to communicate with people who need help the most.
- Do not return to your home until your receive word from authorities that it is safe.
- Do not consume food or drink that has been contaminated by floodwater. The contaminants present could cause you or your family members to become extremely ill.
Where can I learn more about floods?