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What to do before, during and after dam failure or attack

Dams are barriers that are built over flowing waters to redirect or slow down flow. They can be used for hydroelectric power, reservoirs or controlling the depth of a lake. Since 9-11 dams are thought to be potential targets that could produce massive destruction both in the loss of life and damage to the environment.

The power of water is often underestimated as we see when people go to watch the waves during a storm and get washed off the shore. Releasing the water that is behind the wall of dam needs to be controlled.

Common causes of dam failure besides intentional devastation include: spillway design, geological instability, poor maintenance, extreme rainfall or design error.

 Causes of dam failure What to do before, during and after dam failure or attack

·      Floods 

·      Sabotage

·      Structural failure

Benefits of dams

·      Irrigation

·      Recreation

·      Flood control 

According the FEMA there are approximately 79,500 dams in the United States. 95% of them are regulated by state government.

11,800 are classified as high-hazard potential that includes:

·      Environmental damage

·      Loss of life

·      Terrorist attack

·      Property damage

·      Lifeline disruption

What would you do if there was a dam failure near you? Most of the time there would not be much warning but in the case of rainfall or structural failure that has been recognized, you may have time to evacuate.

·      Plan ahead

·      Know your risk

·    (NID) National Inventory of Dams or
    the Association of State Dam Safety Officials (ASDSO)

·      Find out who owns the dam (You can contact you local state or county emergency management agency)

An Emergency Action plan or EAP is a formal document that identifies potential emergency conditions at a dam and specifies preplanned actions that should be followed to reduce loss of life and property damage. The EAP will specify what the owner should do to take care of problems at the damn and also communications that include early warning messages to authorities. If you have to evacuate know your evacuation route and an alternative if there is one available.