Spring is here in Pennsylvania, paving the way for snow melt, spring thunderstorms and other causes of dangerous flooding. This week, March 16-22, 2014, is National Flood Safety Awareness Week. Liberty’s Lutheran Disaster Response-Eastern PA, along with The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA,) are taking this opportunity to highlight the importance of preparing for a flood before it strikes.
Here in Eastern Pennsylvania, some of the most common reasons for flooding include:
- River flooding along the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers
- Flash flooding along many of the smaller tributaries
- Tropical storms and hurricanes
- Snow melt and ice jams
It starts with “Situational Awareness.” Situational Awareness is simply knowing what is going on around you and it is key to staying safe from flooding!
Remember: Do not walk through flood waters. It only takes six inches of moving water to knock you off your feet. If you are trapped by moving water, move to the highest possible point and call 911 for help.
Turn Around, Don’t Drown! Last year, 85 people lost their lives to freshwater flooding. More than half of those fatalities were a result of people driving into flood waters. Each year on average flooding causes 89 fatalities and $8.3 billion in damages. Do not drive into flooded roadways or around a barricade. Water may be deeper than it appears and can hide many hazards (i.e. sharp objects, washed out road surfaces, electrical wires, chemicals, etc.) It may be hard to imagine, but a vehicle caught in swiftly moving water can be swept away in a matter of seconds. 12 inches of water can float a car or small SUV and 18 inches of water can carry away large vehicles.
How you can increase your situational awareness:
- Click here to sign up for flood alerts for your community
- Do you live along the Delaware River? Click here to learn more about flood plans, flood alerts, and flood history along the Delaware River
- Do you live along the Schuylkill River? Click here to learn more about the history of the Schuylkill River and flooding.
- Click here for a fantastic tool at the Environmental Protection Agency website that helps you determine what watershed you live in. It includes local groups that help keep the watershed healthy in order to improve water quality and prevent flooding.
Lutheran Congregational Services is the agency designated by the ELCA’s Lutheran Disaster Response program to oversee disaster preparedness and response for Lutherans in 19 counties of Eastern Pennsylvania. When a local disaster occurs, Lutheran Disaster Response – Eastern Pennsylvania (LDR – EPA,) partners with local and federal emergency management, the Red Cross, Salvation Army and faith-based organizations to assess the situation and respond. LDR-EPA also collaborates with community organizations to help individuals and families prepare for and respond to natural or human-caused disasters.