On Saturday, July 30, 2016, the small town of Ellicott City experienced a severe flash flood that killed two people and damaged many of the town's historic downtown core and destroyed hundreds of vehicles. The rapid onset of the flood caught many residents and visitors by surprise, and according to several residents, was the worst they had ever seen. The National Weather Service reported that over 6 inches of rain fell in the area over a period of 90 minutes, resulting in rapid flash flood conditions. Heroic efforts from bystanders and residents saved many lives, including a restaurant owner that safely led all his 47 patrons to higher ground, and efforts from a local business owner to help a woman out of her car.
The National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning during the event telling residents to seek higher ground, and yet the magnitude of the flooding caught residents and visitors off guard.
What are ways that flood alerts could be enhanced to help prevent casualties from sudden flash flood events? What are other methods communities can use to prevent deaths and property damage from flash floods? Let us know!