With a significant rain storm in the forecast for tonight, County Executive George Latimer is reminding residents once again to take practical steps to be prepared for the impacts of severe weather that might occur this fall and winter.

The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a flash flood watch from 4 p.m. this afternoon through Friday morning. Several inches of rain, high winds and thunderstorms are all possible during this evening’s storm. Local flooding and downed trees or power lines may occur.

“September is National Preparedness Month and this designation is another reminder that we should continue to take practical precautions to be ready for any type of natural disaster or severe weather. As Hurricane Ida recently showed us, severe weather can have devastating consequences, including loss of life, significant flooding and enormous property damage.”

Latimer said residents may have used their emergency supplies during Ida and he urged them to replenish their stockpile of batteries, canned or packaged foods, and other items that are useful to have if you have to shelter-in-place without power. He also said residents should have a go-bag ready in the event they have to leave their homes on short notice for any type of emergency.

Public Safety Commissioner Thomas A. Gleason provided the following tips to motorists who may be driving when flash flooding occurs:

  • Do not drive around barricades
    If you come across a barrier blocking a flooded road, do not drive around it. Even if a parkway or local street appears clear or minimally flooded, the barrier is likely in place because of significant flooding a short distance away.

  • Avoid driving through floodwater
    Driving through floodwater is dangerous, as it only takes 12 inches of water for a small sedan or SUV to float, according to the NWS. You should also avoid driving through large puddles. They may look shallower than they are and can disguise hazards such as a washed-out road or sharp debris.

  • Stay in your vehicle if you're surrounded by fast-moving water 
    Unless water is rising inside your vehicle, do not exit the vehicle when you're surrounded by quickly-moving floodwater. If water is rising inside your vehicle, exit the car and get onto the roof. Call 911 for assistance.

Commissioner Richard G. Wishnie of the Department of Emergency Services (DES) noted that hurricane season runs through Nov. 30, followed by the arrival of the winter storm season.

He recommended that people create a disaster preparedness kit that includes: one gallon of water per person per day; a three-day supply of canned, packaged or other foods that do not need refrigeration or need to be cooked; a manual can opener and eating utensils; flashlights and batteries; a first aid kit; and a battery-powered or hand-crank radio.

Foods that can be stored include ready-to-eat canned meats and fish; protein or fruit bars; dry cereal and granola; peanut butter; nuts; crackers and canned fruit juice.

Wishnie said residents can do the following to enhance their preparedness:

  • Make a plan
    Begin by creating a personal support network and developing a communications plan with friends and family.  Put the plan in writing and share it. Consider the needs of pets or service animals.

  • Build a kit
    Ensure that your kit has all the items you may need if asked to evacuate or shelter-in-place. If you already have an emergency preparedness kit or go-bag, be sure to check expiration dates and re-stock as needed, including medications and food products. Have copies of important documents.

  • Be informed
    Know the hazards to which your community is most vulnerable and take steps to mitigate damage to your property in advance.  Know how you can access official information and instructions in an emergency, such as official websites and social media accounts as well as traditional media outlets.  

  • Get involved
    Before disaster strikes, consider volunteering for the County Medical Reserve Corps, your local Community Emergency Response Team or the American Red Cross. In an emergency, remember family, friends and neighbors who may need additional assistance, such as older adults or someone with a disability.