Flooding and Land Movement

Flooding and land movement can happen in many places. Even if your home is not in a high-risk area, the places you visit might be. Know what to to look for and what to do before, during and after one occurs.

Before Flooding and Land Movement


Graphic says in red: "Causes of flooding and land movement" and in black: "Heavy and long rainfall, very fast snowmelt, overfull bodies of water, dam or levee failure, clogged drains, recent wildfire" and there is a blue icon of three water droplets

Know Your Risk 

  • Visit PDX Ready, Oregon HazVu, the Washington Flood Map, and the FEMA Flood Map to determine the risks in your area. Find out if you are near a major flood infrastructure system, like a dam or levee. If you live on or at the bottom of a slope, see below to learn about signs of land movement. 

Be Prepared

  1. Have an emergency plan and know how to stay informedGather emergency supplies. Make sure you have lots of clean water. Consider children, pets, and anyone with additional needs. Know how to prepare for evacuation
  2. Water and debris can damage electrical components and cause them to catch fire. Have a fire extinguisher (or many). Make sure everyone in your family knows where it is and how to use it
  3. Most homeowner, renter, and business insurance policies do not cover flood damage. Learn how you can buy flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program and some private insurers. Ask your insurance company about land movement coverage if you live on or at the bottom of a slope. Ask about landslide, rock fall, mudslide, and debris flow.



"Turn around, don't drown" infographic from the National Weather Service.
Visit the National Weather Service Turn Around Don't Drown website for more info. 


Blue 211 info logo



Be Aware, Stay Safe

  • Monitor the news and stay aware of weather conditions. If you live near a lake, river, or creek, check local river gauges.
  • Evacuate the area if you think a flood may occur or if you are told to do so by local authorities. It’s critical that you know how to stay informed.
  • Stay out of flood waters, off bridges with fast-moving water, and away from power lines or objects touching power lines.
  • Bring in or secure outdoor items, such as lawn furniture, grills, and trash cans.
  • Turn off electrical power when there is standing water or fallen power lines, or before you evacuate. Turn off gas and water supplies before you evacuate.

If You Need Shelter

During a disaster, the Red Cross and the County help people who are displaced from their homes. They set up shelters (or “Disaster Resources Centers”) to connect people with services and provide a place to sleep for the first few days. Contact 211info to find resources near you.

  • CALL 211 or 1-866-698-6155 (24/7)
  • TTY dial 711 and call 1-866-698-6155
  • TEXT your zip code to 898211 (TXT211) Mon-Fri 9am-5pm
  • EMAIL help@211info.org
  • DOWNLOAD the app 
  • SEARCH online at 211info.org 

Interpreters for 100+ languages available by phone; text and email is in English and Spanish.

Land Movement


Says: Look, listen, and feel in bold red text. Has images of binoculars and a human with sound waves around it. Black text says: "Stay alert if streams and creeks are larger than usual. Look for debris, rocks, and mud flowing downhill. Keep windows open so you can hear well. Listen for loud rumbling sounds."

This is the cover of a multi-page document that's titled "Homeowner's guide to landslides for Washington and Oregon." If you click on the link it will open the document.

Types of Land Movement

Land movement includes landslide, rock fall, mudslide, and debris flow.

When It Is More Likely to Happen

Land movement is more likely in sloped areas when there has been a lot of rain and/or rapid snow melt. Wildfires can increase the risk. They burn plants that normally keep soil in place. Deep root systems give strength to slopes. Live tree roots strengthen slopes. After a tree is cut down, it can take 5-8 years for the roots below to lose their strength. If you live on or at the bottom of a slope, stay alert during these times. 

Warning Signs 

  • Listen: It often creates a loud rumbling sound. Keep windows open so you can hear well. 

  • Look: Look for streams and creeks have grown larger with more mud and debris, rocks, or mud flowing downhill.

Take Action

Evacuate the area if you are told to do so by local authorities. It’s critical that you know how to stay informedIf you see or hear land movement, immediately move to higher ground. Do not drive through flooded areas even if it looks passable. Call 911 to report any active land movement or flooding that appears to be an emergency. 

It Can Happen Without Warning 

Even a few inches of slope movement can disrupt septic, sewer, and water lines, crack foundations, and severely damaging or destroying your home/apartment. Some sloped land provides signs prior to moving.

  • Things to look for inside your home: Cracks in walls, nails popping out of walls, bulging walls, separation of chimney from walls, creaking/popping noises, light switches coming out of walls, doors/windows hard to shut, twisted beams, cracks in floors, water seeping into basement. 

  • Things to look for outside your home: Changes in surface drainage, bulges in retaining walls or tilting of walls, cracks developing in the soil, pistol-butted or bent trees, broken water, utility, or sewer lines, cracks in sidewalks or foundation, stretched or leaning utility lines.

Additional Resources 

After Flooding and Land Movement


Preventing Injury

Do not walk or swim through floodwater or land movement debris. It can be very unsafe. It may contain sharp objects, chemicals, human waste, animal waste, power lines, or other dangerous items. 

Preventing Illness

  • Do not drink, cook with, clean with, or bathe in flood water - it could make you very sick. 
  • Local officials will provide information about the safety of your water. Stay informed and sign up to receive alerts. 
  • Know how to treat water and handle food when the power goes out. 
  • Wash your hands with soap and clean water every time you touch flood water and before every meal. 
  • Do not allow children or pets to play in floodwater areas or play with toys that have been contaminated.

What to Do When Your Water Source is Flooded

Additional Resources