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Wolf Administration Warns of Possible Flooding Across Southern PA

May 17, 2018

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf and state emergency management officials are reminding citizens to monitor weather and roadway conditions as potentially heavy rains will bring the threat of flooding in urban areas and along creeks and rivers across the southern part of the state through Saturday.

“Our first priority is keeping all Pennsylvanians safe, and being prepared is the key to that,” Governor Wolf said. “With the forecast calling for signification rain and possible flooding, Pennsylvanians should stay alert to weather reports and heed warnings of professionals in emergency management so that everyone remains safe.”

Starting late tonight and lasting through most of Saturday, the National Weather Service is calling for widespread, possibly heavy rain at times mainly south of the PA Turnpike and Interstate 78 corridor. Already wet conditions mean flooding is possible in areas where urban and poor drainage flooding is common, as well as along smaller creeks and streams. Rapid, significant river flooding is not expected at this time.

“The biggest thing you can do to stay safe is have a way to get weather alerts that can warn you if flooding is happening in your community,” said PEMA Executive Deputy Director Jeff Thomas. “Also, follow the guidance of emergency personnel and local law enforcement. If roads are blocked off, don’t drive around the barriers that are intended to keep you safe.”

Thomas said it is important for the public to understand the difference between a watch and a warning because each represents a different level of action to be taken.

  • A flood or flash flood watch means that conditions are favorable for flooding to occur. Residents should stay alert and watch for rapidly rising waters, including rivers and streams, and be prepared to move to high ground quickly.
  • A flood or flash flood warning means that there is actual flooding, or flooding is imminent. Residents should act at once and move to high ground.

Thomas said motorists should never drive through floodwaters. More than half of all flooding deaths occur in cars. While water on a flooded roadway might not look deep, the roadway could actually be washed away under the water, or the road could be compromised in a way that could make it unsafe to travel.

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; penalties are higher if emergency responders are called to rescue motorists who disregard warning signs.

Free emergency preparedness information, including templates for family emergency plans and checklists for emergency kit supplies, is available at www.ReadyPA.org. Follow @ReadyPA on Twitter and like ReadyPA on www.facebook.com/BeReadyPA for more emergency preparedness information.

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