BLOG: As the Snow Thaws, Prepare for Possible Flooding

By: Rick Flinn, Director of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency

February 03, 2016

This week, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) reminded Pennsylvanians to monitor their local forecasts for possible flooding due to snow melt and rain.

Widespread river flooding is not currently forecast. However, several waterways will move into the action or minor flood stage, with the chance for one or two to move into moderate flooding.

Since flooding can occur with little or no notice, all Pennsylvanians need to remain vigilant. Families should have emergency plans in place for getting out of their neighborhood and maintaining contact with other family members in case flooding occurs when they’re not together.

Pennsylvanians can also protect their homes from flooding by clearing the drains around their home, including roof gutters, drain inlets, downspouts, pipes and drainage ditches. If you can, clear nearby storm drains from snow, leaves, or debris — clogged drains can create a back-up of water, which can cause local flooding.

Drivers should also be aware of flood warning signs and traffic control devices that warn of flooded areas. To help ensure safety for motorists and emergency responders alike, state law mandates that motorists who drive around or through signs or traffic control devices closing a road or highway due to hazardous conditions will have two points added to their driving records and be fined up to $250. Penalties are higher if emergency responders are called to rescue motorists who disregard warning signs.

The commonwealth’s ReadyPA campaign encourages citizens to take three basic steps before an emergency occurs: Be Informed, Be Prepared, Be Involved. More detailed information, including free downloadable emergency home and car kit checklists and emergency plan templates, is available online at ReadyPA.org. The free ReadyPA app is also available for both Apple and Android devices.

With the possibility for flooding in the near future, Insurance Commissioner Teresa Miller reminded consumers about their options for flood insurance coverage at an event yesterday in Hershey.

Some Pennsylvania homeowners may be facing steeply rising premiums under the federal government’s flood insurance program, and re-drawn Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) maps have placed many properties in flood zones that had not been there before,

However, many homeowners can get private market flood coverage — in many cases at substantial savings as compared to the federal government coverage.

The Insurance Department announced the creation of a new webpage, providing a one-stop shop for information on flood insurance available to Pennsylvania homeowners and renters. You can view the new webpage here.

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