Health Indicator Report of Flooding
Climate experts project that as the climate continues to change, so will the frequency of extreme weather events. Such events have the potential to adversely affect human health and are therefore a public health concern. Droughts, floods, and wildfires have occurred in Utah, but the question is whether climate change will influence the frequency of these extreme weather events.
In Utah, long-term rainfall, rapid spring snowmelt, dam breaks, and flash flooding are the four primary ways floods occur . No matter how it occurs, flooding can be extremely dangerous to the health of Utah citizens. In terms of climate change, the data regarding how climate change may affect flood frequency is minimal. The EPA reports that the number of heavy rainfall occurrences has increased and these occurrences lead to increased flooding events. Yet, the EPA recognizes that this is not happening in all areas . Whether it is an abundance of snowmelt runoff, a heavy thunderstorm, or dam failure, floods can negatively affect public health in a number of ways. One of the primary concerns is contaminated drinking water. Floods can move massive amounts of debris and compromise sewage systems, which can contaminate the drinking water supply. Waterborne diseases such as giardia are transmitted through the consumption of contaminated water (polluted with fecal matter) and can cause debility and even death. Stagnant flood waters can become a breeding ground for vector-borne diseases, like West Nile virus, that could impact individuals who are displaced by a flood. Severe floods can knock over power lines and damage homes, allowing the release of hazardous chemicals into the community . Other health concerns include drowning and injuries directly related to flooding.
Extreme Weather: Number of Flood Events by Flood Type and Year, Utah, 1996-2016
NotesFlash flood: A rapid and extreme flow of high water into a normally dry area, or a rapid water level rise in a stream or creek above a predetermined flood level, beginning within six hours of the causative event (e.g. intense rainfall, dam failure, ice jam). However, the actual time threshold may vary in different parts of the country. Ongoing flooding can intensify to flash flooding in cases where intense rainfall results in a rapid surge of rising flood waters.  Flood: Any high flow, overflow, or inundation by water which causes or threatens damage. 
Data SourceNational Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Centers for Environmental Information
DefinitionFlooding refers to any high flow, overflow, or inundation by water which causes or threatens damage.
NumeratorThis Indicator Report contains the following variables: # Total cost due to flood damage (in U.S. dollars) # Number of deaths and injuries from floods # Number of flood events by type
What Is Being Done?The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) Bureau of Emergency Medical Services and Preparedness is in operation to coordinate local, state, and federal agencies in assisting health care systems with emergency preparedness and how to respond when a disaster strikes. If a flood or any other type of disaster were to occur, UDOH has implemented a 24-hour statewide support line to assist public health professionals and health care providers in supplying aid to the community. At the federal level, the CDC has a web page dedicated to educating the public on how to prepare for a flood and what should be done after a flood. Topics include water safety, sanitation and hygiene, mold, and precautions to take post-flooding. Flood information from the CDC can be accessed at [https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/floods/]
Page Content Updated On 02/08/2017, Published on 02/22/2017