Being prepared for an emergency means ensuring that you have all the knowledge required to best respond to the event. Understanding the flood warning systems, types of flooding, accessing sandbags and what to include in an Evacuation Kit will all assist in the days and hours prior to a flood.

The following information has been provided by the Victorian State Emergency Service (SES)

On the SES website, you can also find a detailed planning tool to "Get Flood Ready", including a flood checklist to help you to create your own emergency plans. 

Warning system

Warnings are issued by the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) to tell people about possible flooding.

A Flood Watch means there is a developing weather pattern that might cause floods in one or two days.

A Flood Warning means flooding is about to happen or is already happening. There are minor, moderate and major flood warnings

Further information is available from the SES website.

Types of flooding

Riverine flooding

In riverine flooding, relatively high water levels above the natural or artificial banks of a stream or river. The nature of riverine flooding can vary significantly in terms of cause, timing and depth between different locations. Coastal rivers with short, steep headwaters often have floods that rise and recede quickly. Inland floods with low gradients have floods that move slowly down the river, sometimes lasting for several months.

Flash flooding

Flash flooding occurs when soil absorption, runoff or drainage cannot adequately disperse intense rainfall, and is usually caused by slow-moving thunderstorms. Flash floods are generally defined as developing in six hours or less from rainfall to the onset of flooding.

Dam failure

Although dam failures are rare, their effects can be significant. In Victoria dam safety is monitored, and warning arrangements are in place to warn downstream residents of potential dam failure threats. Should dam failure occur, significant downstream flooding can involve potentially swift flowing water and high amounts of debris.

Storm surge

Storm surge occurs when sea levels are elevated above the usual tidal limit due to the action of intense low pressure systems over the open ocean. The low pressure causes sea level to rise as there is less air pressing down on the sea. Combined with gale force onshore winds, this can lead to flooding of low-lying coastal land.

Overland flow

Overland flow is water that runs across the land after rainfall, either before it enters a watercourse, after it leaves a watercourse as floodwater, or after it rises to the surface naturally from underground. Rain overflowing from gutters or drains can also become overland flows as it travels over the land, through buildings and along roads as it makes its way towards a watercourse (creek or river).


Sandbags will not stop the water completely but can reduce the amount of water entering your home. The Victorian SES Sandbag Guide (PDF) provides valuable information in preparing for floods.

Flood Victoria

The Flood Victoria website was originally developed for the Victorian community by the Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority on behalf of the State Flood Policy Committee.

This website is largely a portal that provides links to information from a number of different government departments and agencies and can direct you to other websites.

Australian Red Cross

The Australian Red Cross offers a range of valuable resources designed to help people to better prepare, respond to and recover from emergencies.

Resources are available for households, seniors, people with disabilities, parents of young children, psychosocial preparedness and coping with anniversaries.