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Severe Weather Awareness: Focus on flood preparedness

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News release from Ready Georgia-

(ATLANTA)  The residents of Georgia know all too well the toll that floods can take on a community. 

After epic flooding in September 2009 that caused $500 million worth of damage to some 20,000 homes, businesses and other buildings in North Georgia and a flood in South Georgia that brought federal disaster declarations to 46 counties, the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) and the National Weather Service ask all residents to prepare for floods during Severe Weather Awareness Week.

"Last year's September floods are blamed for at least 10 deaths – the majority of these people in their cars, driving where water crossed the road," said Charley English, director of GEMA/Homeland Security.  "If Severe Weather Awareness Week educates and motivates the public to prepare for and respond to floods, we could be saving lives."

Floods are the most common severe weather emergency, and the No. 1 weather-related killer in the U. S.  In Georgia, many communities experience some kind of flooding after spring rains or heavy thunderstorms, but dam failures can also cause some of the worst flooding events.  Floods can be slow or fast rising but generally develop over a period of days.

Flash floods, however, usually result from intense storms dropping large amounts of rain within a brief period. They occur with little or no warning and can reach full peak in only a few minutes. Communities particularly at risk are those located in low-lying areas, near water or downstream from a dam.

More than half of flood victims are in vehicles swept away by moving water, but be aware that just six inches of fast-moving water can knock a person off his feet.  Though floods can occur without much warning, there are steps that any household can take to prepare ahead of time to minimize property damage, injury or even death.  GEMA's Ready Georgia campaign offers this information to help you prepare, plan and stay informed about floods:

 
Prepare for Flooding

- Know your area's flood risk – if unsure, call your local emergency management agency.

- Put together an emergency supplies kit and prepare a portable Ready kit in case you have to evacuate.

- Reduce potential flood damage by raising your furnace, water heater and electric panel if they are in areas of your home that may be flooded.

 

Plan to Evacuate

- Plan how you will leave and where you will go if you are advised to evacuate.

- If you have a car, fill the gas tank.  If you do not have a car, plan alternate means of evacuating.

- Move your furniture and valuables to higher floors of your home.

- Property insurance does not typically cover flood damage. Talk to your insurance provider about your policy and consider if you need additional coverage. The National Flood Insurance Program is designed to provide reasonable flood insurance in exchange for the careful management of flood-prone areas by local communities. The program, administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is available in hundreds of participating Georgia communities. Visit www.floodsmart.gov for more information.

 

Stay Informed about Flooding

- If it has been raining hard for several hours, or steadily raining for several days, be alert to the possibility of a flood.

- Closely monitor a local radio station, TV station or NOAA Weather Radio for flood information.

- Follow the instructions of local officials. If advised to evacuate, do so immediately.

- Do not drive around barricades. They are there for your safety.

- Never drive through standing water. It only takes two feet of water to float a full-sized automobile. 

- Move to higher ground away from rivers, streams, creeks and storm drains.

- Stay out of floodwaters if possible. The water may be contaminated or electrically charged. However, if your car stalls in rapidly rising waters, get out immediately and seek higher ground.

- Stay away from downed power lines to avoid the risk of electric shock or electrocution.

- Do not return to your home until local authorities say it is safe. Even after floodwaters recede, roads and bridges may be weakened and could collapse. Buildings may be unstable, and drinking water may be contaminated. Use common sense and exercise caution.


For a full list of Ready kit items and to create a custom emergency plan, turn to Ready Georgia at www.ready.ga.gov.  For more information on severe weather in Georgia, contact your local EMA, call GEMA at 404-635-7000, or visit www.gema.ga.gov or www.srh.noaa.gov/ffc.

 

About Ready Georgia

Ready Georgia is a statewide campaign designed to educate and empower Georgians to prepare for and respond to natural disasters, pandemic outbreaks, potential terrorist attacks and other large-scale emergencies.  The campaign is a project of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) and provides a local dimension to Ready America, a broader national campaign.  Ready Georgia aims to prepare citizens for maintaining self-sufficiency for at least 72 hours following an emergency, and uses an interactive Web site, online community toolkit, broadcast and print advertising and public awareness media messaging to reach its audiences.  For more information visit www.ready.ga.gov, find Ready Georgia on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ReadyGA or on YouTube at www.youtube.com/ReadyGAfromGEMA.