Gov. Peter Shumlin has signed a proclamation recognizing March 18-22 as Flood Safety Awareness Week in Vermont. The Vermont Division of Emergency Management, Homeland Security and the National Weather Service are joining the Governor to encourage Vermonters to learn about flood safety and prepare for future floods.
“Vermonters have learned from some harsh weather over the past couple of years, punctuated by the historic damage wrought by Tropical Storm Irene in 2011, that there are things we can do now to mitigate our risks when flooding occurs” said Vermont Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security Director Joe Flynn.
“Simply charting an evacuation route or learning the distinction between a Flood Watch and a Flood Warning can help you make quicker and better decisions when rivers spill their banks,” National Weather Service Burlington Chief Meteorologist Andy Nash added.
Below is a list of what you can do before, during, and after a flood to help your family escape injury or property losses:
• Know the terms used to describe flooding:
o Flash Flood – Occurs during heavy rain events and happens very quickly. It ends quickly as well.
o Flood – Occurs as the result of a more prolonged rain event or lake overflow. It’s more gradual, more predictable, and lasts longer.
o Flood Watch – Flooding is possible. Watches are issued by the National Weather Service (NWS) 12 to 36 hours in advance of a possible event.
o Flash Flood Watch – Flash Flooding is possible. Be prepared to move to higher ground. A Flash Flood could occur with little or no warning.
o Flood Warning – Flooding is occurring, or will occur soon. If advised to evacuate, do so immediately.
o Flash Flood Warning – A flash flood is occurring, or is expected to in a very short time. Seek higher ground immediately and stay away from streams and creeks.
• If you ever encounter flood waters NEVER attempt to walk or drive through them (http://www.weather.gov/os/water/tadd/).
• Monitor Media reports.
• Ask local officials whether your property is in a flood-prone or high-risk area. Flood plain maps are available at most town offices or city halls.
• Know your community’s methods to warn you, if evacuation is necessary. Listen to local and state Public Safety officials and respond to their directives in a prompt manner.
• Know your best flood evacuation routes, potential public shelters, and where to find high ground. In a flash flood, you may need to seek high ground on foot quickly.
• Test your sump pumps. If possible, have a backup power source.
• Install ‘check valves’ in sewer traps to prevent floodwater from backing up into the drains in your home.
• Ensure your home is ready. Where possible, minimize damage from basement flooding by elevating utilities and materials that could be damaged by limited basement flooding.
• Anchor fuel tanks to ensure that they do not wash away; fuel tanks create safety and environmental issues inside or outside the home.
• Develop a family emergency kit with items like non-perishable food and water, medications, flashlights and batteries, and a battery-powered radio.
• Make a family communication plan. Designate an out of state relative as a central point of contact.
• Learn your community’s emergency plans.
• When necessary and possible, construct barriers such as levees, berms, and floodwalls to stop floodwater from entering your home or building. Permission to construct such barriers may be required by local building codes. Check local building codes and ordinances for safety requirements.
• Move children’s toys, patio and lawn furniture, and lawn mowers/snow blowers indoors or to higher ground if flooding is pending.
• Be prepared to turn off electrical power when there is standing water, fallen power lines, or before you evacuate. Know how to safely turn off gas and water supplies before you evacuate. Consult an electrician or heating professional before turning utilities back on upon return.
• You may need to store materials like sandbags, plywood, plastic sheeting and lumber to protect your house from floodwaters and to make quick repairs after a severe storm.
• Contact your insurance agent or local government to discuss flood insurance coverage. Flood losses are not covered under regular homeowner’s insurance policies. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) administers the National Flood Insurance Plan (NFIP) through the Federal Insurance Administration (FIA). The NFIP makes flood insurance available in communities that adopt and enforce ordinances to reduce flood damage.
• Contact your local Emergency Management office (usually your city or town office) for more information on mitigation options to further reduce potential flood damage. Your local Emergency Management office may be able to provide additional resources and information regarding ways to reduce potential damage.
The following represent some of the key websites to assist you and your family during times of flooding and type of emergency:
Media can contact the National Weather Service in Burlington at 862-8711, or the Vermont Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security at 800-347-0488 for more information.