In central New York we have experienced 50+ degree (F) weather for the first time in months. With the warmer weather has come the melting of a fair amount of snow which accumulated through the winter. Winter temperatures rarely reaching above freezing up here resulting in little melting of snow through the season, so it’s all occurring now. Coupled with spring rains and storms, flood watches and warnings have been issued here and in other locations around the nation. If you haven’t already, now is the time to prepare for flooding!
Aside from the measures that homeowners, business owners, and facility managers can take (sump pumps, doorway dams, sand bags, and flood barriers), jurisdictions need to be prepared for the impacts of flooding. If electronic gauges don’t exist in your streams and rivers, be sure to have someone periodically measure and report their depth and progression toward flood stages. Ensure that culverts are clean and open for the flow of water, and have personnel, equipment, signage, and barriers ready to deploy to address trouble spots and close roads.
Ironically, water and wastewater systems have a significant vulnerability to flooding. The EPA has issued Flood Resilience: A Basic Guide for Water and Wastewater Utilities that includes worksheets, videos, and flood maps to guide water and wastewater system operators through identifying their flood risk and vulnerability and mitigation options available to them. Along with that effort, they have issued a Flooding Incident Action Checklist.
Most importantly, make sure that flood awareness is not a unilateral effort. Involve emergency managers, elected officials, and first response organizations. Review plans, policies, and procedures and ensure they are up to date. Consider related actions, such as notification and warning, evacuation, and flood fighting measures. Preemptive messaging to property owners/residents and business owners to help them be aware and prepared for flooding is also crucial; and make sure everyone knows how to receive local weather alerts so they are aware of any imminent flooding dangers.
© 2015 – Timothy Riecker
Emergency Preparedness Solutions, LLC