Friday, September 18, 2015

Flash Floods and a Giveaway

With Nancy J. Farrier
We often hear about monsoons and flash floods they can cause. I’ve seen cars lost in flooded washes, and known of people who drowned as water rushed through normally dry washes. Water, something we use, and need, every day can cause an overwhelming about of destruction.


First of all, what is a flash flood? I found this definition: 

A flood caused by heavy
or excessive rainfall in a short period of time, generally less than 6 hours. Flash floods are usually characterized by raging torrents after heavy rains that rip through river beds, urban streets, or mountain canyons sweeping everythingbefore them. They can occur within minutes or a few hours of excessive rainfall. They can also occur even if no rain has fallen, for instance after a levee or dam has failed, or after a sudden release of water by a debris or ice jam.

In 1890, heavy rains deluged Arizona Territory for three days almost nonstop. Snow in the mountains melted and a newly completed dam broke. Rivers overflowed their banks and 50 people downstream from the dam drowned in the flood waters. In 1896, in Southern Arizona, in the town of Benson, two sudden storms occurred in the mountains. Flash floods swept through Benson costing the lives of two mothers and four children. These are a couple of the many accounts of flash floods.




Prior to bridges, people often had to wait until the flood waters receded to get back home or to get to town for supplies. People learned to study the flow of the land so they would know where they could safely build houses. In the Southwest, dry river beds were often deceptive because when flash floods occurred, the water would exceed the boundaries of any wash or riverbed.


In the book, Doing What the Day Brought: An Oral History of Arizona Women (Mary Logan Rothschild, Pamela Claire Hronek), Edna Phelps, who lived on a rural farm in Phoenix, describes the flash floods as being, “rushing, bilious, yellow-looking.” She describes daytime floods as being more catastrophic than night time because of the farm stock that would be endangered. Often her chickens would get caught in the flow, or the back wash of water. She says of the chickens, “I tried artificial respiration on some of them and managed to pump the water out [of] their little ribs and lungs after they seemed to be dead and some of them perked up and ran off and were happy ever after.”


Maintenance of dams was crucial to prevent flash floods and loss of life. When a

dam burst a wall of water had the potential to wipe out everything down stream. Buildup of silt and heavy rains sometimes caused dams to collapse.


In the book, Flash Floods in Texas (Jonathan Burnett), is a firsthand account of by a witness to a dam breaking in Austin in 1900. “I was gazing intently at the great body of water as it swept gracefully over the crest of the dam…I noticed commotion of the waters near the center of the dam…[the water] shot upward in a tremendous spout to a height of perhaps fifty feet. He goes on to describe the fury of the water released and the horror of the cries of the people.

Even today, we must be careful during rains in the desert and flooding season. When I lived in Arizona, every year, I would hear about someone drowning in the unexpected onslaught of water while they tried to cross a dry wash. One of the largest floods in Arizona occurred in 1983. In that flood, we lost our home and could have lost our lives if the flood waters had come up at night.



Have you ever experienced a flood, or seen a flash flood? Click here to view a
video on the devastation of a flood in Glen Canyon. In my latest release, Sonoran Secret, in The Bride’s Agreement collection, my hero and heroine experience the terror of a flash flood. Please leave a comment below to be entered in a drawing for a copy of The Bride’s Agreement.



Nancy J Farrier is an award winning author who lives in Southern California in the Mojave Desert. She loves the Southwest with its interesting historical past. Nancy and her husband have five children and two grandsons. When Nancy isn’t writing, she loves to read, do needlecraft, play with her cats, and spend time with her family. Nancy is represented by Karen Ball of The Steve Laube Literary Agency. You can read more about Nancy and her books on her website: nancyjfarrier.com.

30 comments:

  1. Wow! Floods are definitely something to pay attention to and it's amazing how little warning people had back then. And yet they fought and survived! I loved the chickens story! Looking forward to checking out this book!

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    1. Kvwriter, I loved the chicken story too. Thank you for commenting.

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  2. There was a flood in my hometown, Easton, Pennsylvania, in 1955 that swept away a major bridge. I wasn't born then, but I grew up hearing about it, and people still talk about it.

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    1. Rebecca, it's amazing how much power water has. Thanks for commenting.

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  3. When I was very young, our family lived next to the "town branch". One Sunday morning, torrential rain caused it to overflow the banks and the water had soon risen to the step of our front door. I remember my parents leading me and my brother to a neighbor's house. I will never forget how cold that water was and how it felt as it swirled around my feet and legs.

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    1. Connie, I'm glad they were able to get you to safety. What a memory.

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  4. I grew up in Albuquerque when the arroyos were still dirt. We'd play the old west in them despite putt mothers' constant warnings of flash flood danger. Now I'm in Colorado and we have areas that still haven't recovered from the floods in 2013. Water has tremendous power.

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    1. Karen, you are right. Floods have so much power.

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  5. Yes I have seen a flash flood in 1993. We were visiting my mother-in-law in Kansas, right across the river from St Joseph, MO. It started flooding and we had to get back across the river so we would be able to get back home without going miles out of our way, it was devastating to the small towns along the Missouri.

    wfnren at aol dot com

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    1. Wendy, yes, the Mississippi is famous for devastating floods. Scary. Thanks for commenting.

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  6. Water is a powerful force and that is something we have no conrrol over when it starts coming down. A flash flood would be horrifying. Interesting post, Nancy. Thank you for sharing!

    mauback55 at gmail dot com

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    1. Thank you, Melanie. I appreciate your comments.

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  7. I live in DRY west Texas, so I haven't seen or been in a flood. I imagine in would be really scary. Thank you for the post and for the chance to win a copy of this book.
    susanmsj at msn dot com

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    1. Susan, thank you for stopping by and for commenting.

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    2. Susan, thank you for stopping by and for commenting.

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  8. Just go over flash flooding here 2 months ago. Been dry since. Just have to pay attention and not go too close to were the flash flooding is. 2 teenagers didn't listen and they lost there lives in the river here. SO SAD.

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    1. Kim, it is very sad, especially when children drown in flood waters. Thanks for commenting.

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    2. Kim, it is very sad, especially when children drown in flood waters. Thanks for commenting.

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  9. I've never experienced a flood, just seen pictures on the news. Once when camping in Zion National Park they closed the Narrows since there were flash flood warnings.

    colorvibrant at gmail dot com

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    1. Heidi, thanks for stopping by and commenting.

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    2. Heidi, thanks for stopping by and commenting.

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  10. I've never experienced a real flash flood.

    Just recently we did get a big rain and the water flowed down the driveway so quickly that a bit came under my screen door, but no devastation just a bit of a mildew smell for a few day after.

    pattymh2000(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. Patty, it's incredible how fast the waters can build up and go where they shouldn't. Mildew can be such a problem. Thanks for commenting.

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    2. Patty, it's incredible how fast the waters can build up and go where they shouldn't. Mildew can be such a problem. Thanks for commenting.

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  11. The neighboring big city to us floods every spring. It has 3 rivers running through it, so it's beautiful but dangerous!

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  12. I have not experienced a flood, but know those who have. Such total devastation! Thank you, Nancy, for sharing an interesting post and wonderful giveaway. I'm eager to read this wonderful collection!

    texaggs2000 at gmail dot com

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  13. We used to get flash floods in Tucson, AZ. They are quite terrifying and you dare not drive through running water on the road. sm wileygreen1(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  14. This year in S.E. Nebraska we had 3 different floods of our town. Twice both bridges were closed and we had to drive 1 hour to get to the other side of town. This post was interesting to me :)
    I'd enjoy reading your book.. dkstevensneAToutlook)Dot)com

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  15. The closest we came to a flood was years ago when we first moved into our house. People were kayaking down our street! I'll never forget that. NOW we need water desparately!
    Digicats {at} Sbcglobal {dot} Net

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