Flood Preparedness and Safety
Flooding can happen anywhere; and flooding is Mecklenburg County’s most common - and most expensive - natural disaster.
Below are safety tips to prepare for flooding:
- Flooding is the #1 natural hazard in Mecklenburg County, both in terms of frequency and in terms of damage to property;
- Often, local floods are caused by our climate – specifically, heavy rain from thunderstorms, tropical storms and hurricanes - and our gently rolling land. During heavy rains, creeks may naturally overflow their banks causing low-lying areas of streets and yards to have standing water;
- Mecklenburg County is very prone to flash-flooding. According to FEMA, 83% of local floods are flash floods, the most dangerous kind of flood. Annually, Charlotte gets more rain than Seattle, in fewer rainy days (NOAA). More rain in less time means a greater chance of flash flooding (FloodSmart.gov);
- Flooding is deadly, killing more people than tornadoes and lightning combined.
- Most flood deaths happen in vehicles. Never enter floodwaters on foot or in a vehicle. A car can easily be carried away by just two feet of flood water. Turn Around, Don’t Drown (FloodSmart.gov).
- Regular homeowners or renters insurance does not cover flood damage. You need a flood insurance policy. (FloodSmart.gov)
- FEMA floodplain maps only show certain types of flood risks. Flooding can and does happen outside of mapped floodplains. 25% of flood insurance claims come from areas not shown in a FEMA floodplain (FloodSmart.gov).
- Flooding is unpredictable. Learn what to do before, during and after a flood. Have an Emergency Supply Kit. Be ready to evacuate or to move valuables and important documents to a safe, dry place.
- Know if there are current weather watches, warnings or advisories for your area. Visit the National Weather Service website.
Why is flooding so dangerous? See for yourself with this video.
Flood Information and Notification System (FINs)
The Flood Information & Notification System (FINS) alerts local fire, police, emergency management and MEDIC to the threat or actual danger of flooding. It is a partnership involving the City of Charlotte, Mecklenburg County and the US Geological Survey. Rainfall and stream depth levels are monitored continuously. Emergency responders are notified by the system when issues arise.
There are three notification levels reported by FINS
- ALERT—When rainfall is intense or streams rise rapidly. The FINS system automatically sends the ALERT via pager, cell phone and e-mail to emergency responders and Storm Water Services staff.
- INVESTIGATE—If the situation gets worse, emergency personnel must personally visit the location of heavy rainfall or flooding. They will barricade streets or take other action if needed.
- EMERGENCY—The highest level. Additional precautions may be necessary such as evacuating residents near the high-water areas.
FINS stream gauge locations are placed in areas prone to flooding in the past. These include:
- Briar Creek at Shamrock Drive
- Briar Creek at Monroe Road
- Briar Creek at Providence Road
- Little Hope Creek at Mockingbird Lane
- Little Sugar Creek at 36th Street
- Little Sugar Creek at Carolinas Medical Center
- Little Sugar Creek at Wakefield Drive
- Mallard Creek at Pavilion Boulevard
- McAlpine Creek at Sardis Road
- McAlpine Creek at Addison Drive
- McMullen Creek at Sharon View Road
- Stewart Creek at Freedom Drive
- Sugar Creek at Downs Road
- Mountain Island Lake Dam
The 14 automated FINS sites are part of a larger network of more than 50 stream gauges and more than 70 rain gauges throughout Charlotte-Mecklenburg. In drought or downpour, these computerized gauges transmit rainfall and stream depth data to Storm Water Services and the US Geological Survey.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services