Allegany, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties are prone to seasonal flooding, and the American Red Cross of Southwestern New York urges residents to take steps now to stay safer when floods threaten.
"By preparing together for emergencies such as floods, we can make our families safer and our communities stronger," said Bill Tucker, executive director of the local chapter. "It is important that residents, families, and communities work together to create a flood preparedness plan now, especially as we face the threat of excessive snowmelt, ice jams and rainfall this weekend."
The American Red Cross of Southwestern New York has responded frequently to the threat of major flooding over the past several years. Most recently, just last month, the Red Cross opened a shelter in the Silver Creek area and was on standby to set up more shelters when ice jams on local creeks combined with snowmelt to threaten homes.
As with any disaster, planning and preparation can be the difference between life and death. For those with internet access, detailed information on preparedness can be found at www.redcross.org/prepare/location/home-family, and specific information on flooding is found at www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/flood. In general, the Red Cross recommends that individuals and families prepare for floods by:
Creating and practicing a Disaster Plan: Talk to everyone in your household about what to do if a flood occurs. Decide where you would meet and who you would contact in case of flooding. Assemble and maintain an emergency preparedness kit. Be prepared to evacuate your family and pets at a moment's notice. Listen to area radio and television stations for possible flood warnings and reports of flooding in progress. Sign up for "NY Alerts" at users.nyalert.gov/ to receive text or email updates on breaking news.
Assembling an Emergency Preparedness Kit: Kits should contain first aid items and essential medications, foods that don't require cooking or refrigeration, a manual can opener, bottled water, flashlights and a battery-powered radio with extra batteries, copies of important documents and other emergency items for the whole family. If you have pets, be sure and include pet care items, medications, and registration/vaccination documents.
Heeding Flood Warnings: Listen to your local radio and TV stations for updated flood information. A flood watch means flooding or flash flooding is possible in your area. A food warning means flooding or flash flooding is already occurring or will occur soon in your area. When a flood or flash flood warning is issued for your area, head for higher ground and stay there.
Relocating During Flood Warnings: Stay away from flood waters. If you come upon a flowing stream where water is above your ankle, stop, turn around and go another way. If you come upon a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground.
For more information on flood preparedness, contact the American Red Cross of Southwestern New York at 664-5115, visit www.redcross.org or www.cruzrojaamericana.org or call 1-800 RED CROSS. We urge you to share these Red Cross flood preparedness tips with every member of your household, because the best protection is to be prepared ahead of time.
The American Red Cross of Southwestern New York is a United Way Community Partner.