Unit HomeStay InformedNatural HazardsFloodDam Failure
Ready Marine Corps


Ready Marine Corps

Emergency Preparedness Program

Brought to You By Your Marine Corps Emergency Management Team
Dam Failure
Water breaches a dam in this photo.
Dam failures
or levee breaches can occur quickly and without much warning, causing severe flash flooding in the surrounding area and resulting in property damage and loss of life.

Photo by: Hans Pennink, FEMA
Areas at Risk
  • Determine whether your home or work place is downstream from a dam and whether you are within a predetermined evacuation zone.
  • The potential risk of a dam break is designated by the following criteria:
    • High Hazard—Dam failure would probably result in loss of life and major damage to property.
    • Significant Hazard—Dam failure could possibly cause some loss of life and property damage.
    • Low Hazard—Dam failure is unlikely to cause loss of life or property damage.
How To Prepare
Collapse All Expand All
If There Is A Failure
Collapse All Expand All
  • Move to higher ground immediately. Do not wait for instructions to move. If there is time, move important items to a top floor.
  • Stay tuned to the radio or TV for further information and instructions.
  • Take only essential items, including your family emergency kit.
  • Turn off gas, electricity, and water.
  • Disconnect appliances.
  • Make sure your car’s gas tank is full.
  • Do not walk in moving water.
  • Do not drive in flood water. As little as six inches of water can cause loss of control and stalling of a vehicle. 
  • If floodwaters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground if you can do so safely. You and the vehicle can be swept away quickly.
  • Follow the designated evacuation plan, and expect a high volume of traffic.
  • Stay tuned to emergency station on radio or TV and eMNS alerts.
  • Listen for further instructions.
  • Prepare to evacuate to a shelter or neighbor’s home if your home is damaged.
Follow your command’s protocols for personnel accountability and contact your command’s designated Point of Contact to check-in and report your location and situation.
After a Dam Failure
Collapse All Expand All
  • Listen to news reports to make sure water supplies are not contami­nated.
  • Stay clear of flood waters (standing and moving) as they may be con­taminated or deeper than expected. 
  • Beware of downed power lines.
  • Avoid any roads where flood waters have receded as they may have weakened and could collapse under the weight of a car.
  • Be extremely cautious when enter­ing buildings and homes as there may be unseen damage.
  • Clean and disinfect everything that was touched by water as it can contain sewage and other contami­nants.

Set your own course through any hazard: stay informed, make a plan, build a kit.
Live Ready Marine Corps.

Where to Find Additional Information
Downloadable PDF