CHARLESTON, W. Va. -- History can be a great teacher. West Virginians can prepare for future flooding with attention to a personal evacuation and communication plan.
"Learn flood-warning signs and your community's alert signals," said Louis Botta, the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) federal coordinating officer.
Individuals living in flash-flood areas should have several alternative plans.
An emergency communication plan for getting back together is important in case family members are separated from one another during floods or flashfloods. This is a real possibility during the day when adults are at work and children are at school.
An out-of-state relative or friend can serve as the "family contact." After a disaster, it is often easier to call long distance. Make sure everyone in the family knows the name, address and phone number of the contact person.
It is important to make sure that all family members know how to respond after a flood or flashflood:
- Teach all family members how and when to turn off gas, electricity and water.
- Teach children how and when to call 9-1-1, police, fire department and which radio station to tune to for emergency information.
- Be prepared to evacuate.
- Keep children away from creeks, streams and drainage systems.
- Do not drive through standing or flowing water.
If time permits, here are other steps that you can take before the flood waters come:
- Turn off all utilities at the main power switch and close the main gas valve if evacuation appears necessary.
- Move valuables, such as papers, furs, jewelry and clothing to upper floors or higher elevations.
- Fill bathtubs, sinks and plastic soda bottles with clean water. Sanitize the sinks and tubs first by using bleach. Rinse, fill with clean water.
- Bring outdoor possessions, such as lawn furniture, grills and trash cans inside, or tie them down securely.
On March 1, 2003, FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. FEMA's continuing mission within the new department is to lead the effort to prepare the nation for all hazards and effectively manage federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates proactive mitigation activities, trains first responders, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration.