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Fundamentals of managing flood emergencies: in the first instalment of a two-part article from a Watersafe 2004 speaker, planning for major flood emergencies is discussed, including training, risk assessment, equipment and personnel.(Watersafe)

As I travel around the country teaching and lecturing on flood and swiftwater responses, I'm often asked; "Why does it flood?" Aside from my biblical knowledge of floods and their causes, I often respond by answering with a quote I picked up from a colleague a few years ago; "Because it rains too much!" As flippant as that may sound, the fact is that regardless of what country you live in or what area of that country you live in, when "it rains too much;" more than the ground, watershed, or a storm water system can withstand; it will flood.

Such was the case in Charlotte, NC in 1995 and 1997 when two significant flood events occurred--the latter resulting in the deaths of three citizens. While Charlotte enjoyed an economic and building boom in the 80s, the city simultaneously suffered through several years of nominal rainfall and drought conditions. However, as the 90s rolled around, and after more roads, parking lots, and rooftops had been constructed covering once permeable ground, it started to rain again--and it rained too much. Fortunately in 1992 and following a flash flood that resulted in a complicated rescue, the leadership of our department elected to prepare for such events through preparation, training, and equipment.

However, as a then training officer who found valuable information and courses for training responders readily available, I was perplexed by the lack of available information or programs to train flood response managers Thus began my journey to learn, experience, develop and share some fundamental concepts of managing flood and swift water emergencies. …

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