HARRISBURG – With heavy rain predicted for most of the commonwealth Thursday into Friday, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency is warning residents that the precipitation could lead to flooding. Residents in southeast Pennsylvania should be especially vigilant as they are forecast to receive 1 to 2 inches of rainfall.
“Some of the latest forecasts indicate that a storm system approaching Pennsylvania will bring heavy rain to most of the commonwealth and high winds in isolated areas over the next couple of days,” said PEMA Director James R. Joseph. “This storm has the potential to trigger flash flooding and ice jams, which could threaten communities with little warning.”
If waterways do rise, people who live near those bodies of water should contact local emergency management officials and move to higher ground if necessary.
“Those living in flood-prone areas should listen carefully to all severe weather warnings and act immediately if protective measures are advised,” Joseph said.
Joseph urged drivers not to drive into low-lying areas or over roads and bridges that are already under water, since the average automobile can be swept off the road in only 12 inches of moving water. Roads covered by water are also prone to collapse.
“If you come upon a flooded street, notify your local emergency management agency or a PennDOT representative and take an alternate route,” Joseph said.
Important 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 in your region;
-Learn flood-warning signs and your community alert signals. Request information on preparing for flooding or flash flood conditions and have check valves installed in building sewer traps to prevent flood water from backing up in sewer drains;
-Plan and practice an evacuation route. Contact the local emergency management office for a copy of the community flood evacuation plan;
-Make sure 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; and
-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.
In addition, it is important that people in flash flood areas have disaster supplies on hand, including:
· Flashlights and extra batteries;
· A 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; and
· Sturdy shoes.
According to PEMA, Pennsylvania is one of the most flood-prone states in the nation. Additional flood safety information and weather updates can be found at www.pema.state.pa.us.