HARRISBURG, Pa. -- State and federal disaster recovery officials urge Pennsylvanians to prepare their homes and families for disasters.
There are some key steps to take when preparing for a disaster. The first thing to remember is to be prepared well in advance. Don't wait until the disaster is upon you before you begin making a plan, gathering supplies, or ensuring that your family is aware of your community's evacuation and communication plans. In areas that may experience flooding, buying a flood insurance policy is a step in the right direction.
"Whether your community has seasonal or occasional flooding, there are proactive measures you can take to help minimize or prevent flood damage to homes and property," said James R. Joseph, Commonwealth coordinating officer. "Remember, flooding is Pennsylvania 's most common natural disaster, so be prepared."
State and local officials recommend that you prepare now and follow these guidelines to minimize losses and protect your property from flood damage:
- Buy flood insurance coverage. Homeowners insurance doesn't cover flooding. It takes 30 days for a policy to go into effect, so don't wait. You can purchase flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program, from your insurance agent. To find an agent near you call 1-800-427-2419 .
- Visit the FloodSmart Web site at www.floodsmart.gov to find out about your flood risk, how to protect your property and how to obtain flood insurance.
- Stay informed of weather conditions in your area.
- Be prepared to move valuable possessions to upper floors or to safe ground.
- Have emergency supplies on hand to last for at least three days. Food, bottled water, first aid supplies, medicines and a battery-operated radio should be ready to go, and have extra batteries.
- Have a working sump pump. Buy and install a sump pump with back-up power.
- Anchor fuel tanks. An unanchored tank can be torn free by floodwaters.
- Elevate your furnace, water heater, washer and dryer. They should be at least 12 inches above the base flood elevation (the projected floodwater depth).
- Take photos or videos of important possessions. If your home is damaged in a flood, documentation will help you in filing a flood insurance claim.
- Plan for evacuation. Plan and practice a flood evacuation route, ask someone out of state to be your "family contact" in case people are separated and be sure everyone knows the contact's address and phone number.
"Buying flood insurance is the best way to protect your home and possessions from flood damages," said Federal Coordinating Officer Tom Davies.
Flood insurance is easy to obtain and is sold by most insurance agents. Visit www.FloodSmart.gov or call 1-800-427-2419 , TTY 1-800-427-5593 , to learn how to prepare for floods, how to purchase a flood insurance policy and about the benefits of protecting your property and possessions against flooding.
FEMA manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates mitigation activities, works with state and local emergency managers, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.