PEMA Director Warns of Flash Flood Potential During Hurricane Season

June 11, 2005

Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) Director Adrian King, Jr. is reminding Pennsylvanians to consider ways to prevent losses due to flooding and to be prepared to act when
severe thunderstorm warnings are issued that have the potential to cause flash flooding.

“With hurricane season stretching from the late spring to the early autumn months, and the first Tropical Storm of the season approaching the Gulf Coast (over the weekend), there is great potential for flash flooding to develop,” King said.

“Pennsylvania is one of the most flood-prone states in the nation and I
encourage all Pennsylvanians to think about flood safety and take a few simple steps to protect their homes and families from floods.”

King noted that torrential rain from storms can trigger flash flooding
that could threaten communities with little warning and can reach full peak in only a few minutes.

“As flash flood conditions develop, the National Weather Service will
issue a flash flood watch or a flash flood warning – each representing a
different level of danger,” said King.

A flash flood watch means that flooding may occur. Residents should keep alert and watch rivers and streams. If they rise – don’t wait; move to high ground quickly.

A flash flood warning means that there is actual flooding. Residents
should act at once and move to high ground.

“Those living in flood-prone areas should listen carefully to all severe
weather warnings and act immediately if protective measures are advised,” King said. “Develop a family plan that identifies evacuation routes and a place to meet in case your family gets separated. And don’t drive into low-lying areas or over roads and bridges that are already under water.”

King offered these flood preparedness tips:

* Find out if you live in a flood-prone area from your local emergency
management office. Ask whether your property is above or below the flood stage water level and learn about the history of flooding for your region.
* Learn flood-warning signs and your community alert signals; request
information on preparing for flooding and specifically flash floods and have check valves installed in building sewer traps to prevent flood waters from backing up in sewer drains. In addition, you should plan and practice an evacuation route. Contact the local emergency management office for a copy of the community flood evacuation plan.

This plan should include information on the safest routes to shelters.
Individuals living in flash flood areas should have several alternative
routes. Have disaster supplies on hand, including:

— Flashlights and extra batteries
— Portable, battery-operated radio and extra batteries
— First-aid kit and manual
— Emergency food and water
— Non-electric can opener
— Essential medicines/prescriptions
— Cash, credit cards and important legal documents
— Sturdy shoes

Develop an emergency communication plan. In case family members are separated from one another during floods or flash floods (a real possibility during the day when adults are at work and children are at school), have a plan for getting back together.

Ask an out-of-town relative or friend to serve as the “family contact.”
After a disaster, it is often easier to call long distance. Make sure everyone in the family knows the name, address, and phone number of the contact person.

Make sure that all family members know how to respond after a flood or flash flood and teach all family members how and when to turn off gas, electricity, and water.

Teach children how and when to call 9-1-1, the police, the fire
department, and which radio station to tune to for emergency information.

King also urged renters and property owners to purchase flood insurance policies to provide financial protection from potential storms.

“Flood damage, unlike wind damage, is not covered by homeowner’s or business insurance policies,” said King. “This coverage must be purchased separately.”

“It takes 30 days for a flood insurance policy to be effective so it’s
best to purchase it now,” King said.

Additional flood safety information and weather updates can be found at

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