American Red Cross urges preparation in advance of Tropical Depression Ida


Significant rainfall poses risk for flash flooding and dangerous conditions


PITTSBURGH, August 31, 2021— Tropical Depression Ida’s arrival in Pennsylvania is predicted to bring significant amounts of rainfall, triggering a Flash Flood Watch for much of the state.

The Greater Pennsylvania Region is working in coordination with local emergency management agencies and officials throughout the state to monitor conditions and respond to any flooding or storm related disasters that may occur.

Flash flooding can occur happen very quickly with little or no warning and can fill underpasses, viaducts, parking structures, low roads, and basements. Floods are among the most frequent and costly natural disasters and so the Red Cross is encouraging all Pennsylvanians to begin their planning and preparations in advance.

KNOW THE DIFFERENCE 

  • A flood/flash flood WATCH means a flood or flash flood is possible.
  • A flood/flash flood WARNING means flooding, or flash flooding is already occurring or will occur soon and you must take immediate action.

Prepare

  • Assemble an emergency preparedness kit that includes: water, non-perishable food, a battery-powered radio (NOAA Weather Radio), extra batteries, first-aid kit, cell phones and chargers.
  • A household evacuation plan that includes your pets.
  • Stay informed about your community’s risk and response plans.
  • Ensure each family member knows how to get back in touch if you are separated during an emergency.
  • Keep insurance policies, documents, and other valuables in a safe-deposit box. You may need quick, easy access to these documents. Keep them in a safe place less likely to be damaged during a flood. Take pictures on a phone and keep copies of important documents and files on a flashdrive that you can carry with you on your house or car keys.
  • Download the free Red Cross Emergency App for weather alerts, open Red Cross shelter locations, and safety tips (available for iPhone or for Android).  

Prepare Your Home

If you live in a floodplain, elevate, and reinforce your home to make damage less likely during a flood.
Check with a professional to: 

  • Raise your furnace, water heater, and electric panel to floors that are less likely to be flooded. An undamaged water heater may be your best source of fresh water after a flood.
  • Install check valves in plumbing to prevent floodwater from backing up into the drains of your home. (As a last resort, when floods threaten, use large corks or stoppers to plug showers, tubs, or basins.)
  • Construct barriers such as levees, berms, and flood walls to stop floodwater from entering the building (if permitted by local building codes).
  • Seal walls in basements with waterproofing compounds to avoid seepage through cracks.
  • Use sandbags when flooding is expected:
    • It takes two people about one hour to fill and place 100 sandbags, creating a wall one foot high and 20 feet long.
    • Make sure you have enough sand, burlap or plastic bags, shovels, strong helpers, and time to place them properly.
    • If a flood is expected, some communities will offer free sandbags to residents. Be sure to watch or listen to the news so you can access these resources.

Prepare Your Pets

  • Prepare a pet emergency kit for your companion animals.
  • Bring your companion animals indoors and maintain direct control of them. Be sure that your pet emergency kit is ready to go in case of evacuation.

If You Have Livestock

  • Ensure that any outbuildings, pastures, or corrals are protected in the same way as your home.
  • If installing or changing fence lines, consider placing them in such a way that your animals are able to move to higher ground in the event of flooding.
  • Consider a precautionary evacuation of your animals, especially any large or numerous animals. Waiting until the last minute could be fatal for them and dangerous for you.

Right Before A Flood

  • Listen to local area radio, NOAA radio or TV stations for the latest information and updates.
  • Be prepared to evacuate quickly and know your routes and destinations.
  • Check your emergency kit and replenish any items missing or in short supply, especially medications or other medical supplies. Keep it nearby.
  • Fill plastic bottles with clean water for drinking.
  • Fill bathtubs and sinks with water for flushing the toilet or washing the floor or clothing.
  • Fill your car’s gas tank in case you need to evacuate.
  • Bring outdoor belongings, such as patio furniture, indoors.
  • Turn off propane tanks to reduce the potential for fire.
  • Move your furniture and valuables to higher floors of your home.
  • Turn off utilities if told to do so by authorities to prevent damage to your home or within the community. If you shut your gas off, a professional is required to turn it back on.
  • Unplug small appliances to reduce potential damage from power surges that may occur.

During a Flood – Staying Safe Indoors

  • Turn off the power and water mains if instructed to do so by local authorities.
  • Boil tap water until water sources have been declared safe.
  • Avoid contact with floodwater. It may be contaminated with sewage or contain dangerous insects or animals.
  • Continue listening to local area radio, NOAA radio or TV stations for the latest information and updates.
  • Don’t use gas or electrical appliances that have been flooded.
  • Dispose of any food that comes into contact with flood water.
     

During a Flood – Staying Safe Outdoors

  • Don’t walk, swim or drive through floodwater. Just six inches of fast-flowing water can knock you over and two feet will float a car.
  • If caught on a flooded road with rapidly rising waters, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground.
  • Don’t walk on beaches or riverbanks.
  • Don’t allow children to play in or near flood water.
  • Avoid contact with floodwater. It may be contaminated with sewage or contain dangerous insects or animals.
  • Stay out of areas subject to flooding. Underpasses, dips, low spots, canyons, washes, etc. can become filled with water.

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or CruzRojaAmericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.