No Matter the elevation, flash flooding is a huge problem for the Twin Tiers. With such a prominent weather event constantly a threat, emergency management officials continue working to perfect warning procedure as well as preparation strategy.
Just last year, Windham Township in Bradford County Pennsylvania suffered from severe Flash Flooding.
5 Feet of rushing water destroyed homes, blocked off local roads, and scattered hazardous debris across the town.
Windham Township Supervisor Gale Bowen, spoke to WENY News after the flooding last season, explaining that the town was a “total disaster”. Several people were floating down roads on top of beds, hung up on guardrails and guide wires, some even missing. All who were in need of rescuing.
Flood threats in Steuben, Schuyler and Chemung Counties are constantly patrolled by Environmental Emergency Services to minimize similar risks seen in Bradford County. This non-profit oversees The Flood Warning Services gauge system, which collects rainfall data used to decide whether an alert, warning or watch should be issued. The Gauges also give the Weather Service and EMS about 20 minutes lee time to warn those at risk.
Tim Marshall, Director of Steuben County EMS and President of Environmental Emergency Services Incorporated says that "we can see rainfall in excess of more than 1 inch in an hour. so if we know that we are getting more than 1 inch in an hour at a particular gauge site we can give fire departments and residents an early heads up and that also helps the weather service by allowing them to see that data ahead of time so they can issue those warnings.”
The protection of your life, and loved ones ultimately comes down to the plan you set forth ahead of the disaster.
Marshall explains that families should think “where are you going? how are you going to get there? what happens if your road or route is blocked out?” when creating a plan, as well as make sure that the plan is communicated to each person involved.
Take the time to research flood risks in your area. Find out if your home or neighboring county are prone to them. If so adjust your plan to meet your risk level. Create an emergency action plan that includes evacuation and alternative shelter options close to your neighborhood. Make a kit that includes a minimum of 3 days worth of food and water, flashlights, batteries, money and first aid supplies. Lastly stay tuned for updates from local news outlets, the National Weather Service or Emergency Management Services. A great source are the phone apps “ReadySteuben” and “CCEMO” for both Steuben and Chemung Emergency Management Services.
Kristin Card, The Deputy Director of Chemung County Fire and Emergency Management explains that "on those apps there is watch and warning information, [and] an 'I'm Okay' feature.” With the “I'm Okay” feature you can create an email distribution list, and with the touch of a button send all your family messages letting them know your safe.
They also offer the 5-1-1 Map from the New York State DOT and a "where am i feature".
Card also says " if you are trying to get around something that is going on, whether its flash flooding or any type of emergency there is a where am I feature that will actually show you on the map where you are. you can email that or text that location to someone else if you wanted to, so they could give you directions on how to get around it."
When it comes to Flood Dangers, action early on can save life and property in minutes.
Be sure to check out www.highwater.org for more tips on ways to prepare, as well as the "ReadySteuben" and "CCEMO" phone apps for alerts that are issued, check lists and more information. Those apps are free and accessible for apple and android products.