Preparing for a flood

How to prepare for a flood

Floods can cause enormous damage very quickly. They can cut off communication and transport options and they can happen anywhere in Australia.

In an emergency, the situation can change rapidly. So, before a flood arrives, it's important to:

  1. ask
  2. learn
  3. plan and prepare.


Ask questions about flooding in your neighborhood. Your local SES and council are good places to start.

  • When did floods previously affect the area?
  • How high were they?
  • How quickly did the water rise?
  • How long did flooding last?
  • Is there a flood plan for my area?
  • At what point do I need to evacuate my house?
  • If I need to evacuate, where do I go?
  • Will my house become isolated?


Before floods threaten your area, learn how the Total Flood Warning System works and familiarise yourself with these important terms:

  • Flood Watch – issued to advise of possible future flooding if the rain forecast suggests it may happen in the next few days.
  • Flood Warning – issued when flooding is expected in a particular location or catchment.
  • Flash flooding – happens less than six hours after rainfall. When flash flooding is expected, we issue a Severe Weather Warning.
  • Minor flooding – causes inconvenience. Low-lying areas next to water courses are inundated.
  • Moderate flooding – the area of inundation is more substantial. Main traffic routes may be affected. Some buildings may be affected above floor level.
  • Major flooding – extensive areas are inundated. Many buildings may be affected above floor level. Properties and towns are likely to be isolated and major rail and traffic routes closed.

Plan and prepare

If your local area has a history of flooding you should prepare a flood action plan. The plan should include an evacuation plan and a flood preparation checklist.

Key points of information for each State and Territory are: