Before, During and After Irene

News 25 Aug 2011

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I’m about as far away from Parkesburg as you can get and still be on the east coast.

Enjoying a week with extended family on the beaches of North Caroline’s outer banks, we totally escaped this week’s earthquake, whose epicenter was 4 hours to the north of us.
We’re not so lucky when it comes to the wonderful, woolly hurricane Irene.  She’s due to barrel up the coast in the next 48 to 72 hours, raising in intensity as she chugs northward.
This morning Parkesburg’s Fire Marshall Ray Stackhouse and Borough Council President Mel Keen put out the following guidelines we all should keep in mind to stay safe before, during and after Irene’s wreaks her havoc.

BEFOREthe storm:
  • MONITOR STREAM AND URBAN STREET FLOODING – For those living inareas that are prone to localized flooding, closely watch small streams andlow-lying areas for early flooding. Make sure street storm drains are cleared.
  • Secure outside objects.  Hurricane force winds can make outdoorfurniture into missiles.
  • Make sure you have plenty of fuel and water. 

  • IFYOU EXPERIENCE A POWER OUTAGE be prepared with flashlights/ extra batteries/lanterns, do not use candles
  • Have several days supply of food, water andprescription medicationfor each family member.
  • Register yourself or loved ones with the SpecialNeeds Registryat www.specialneedspa.org if you or theyhave difficulty receiving or acting upon emergency instructions.
  • Have an emergency kit for you and your pet in case youneed to evacuate. 

  • Sign up to receive free emergency alert information at www.readynotifypa.org or textingCHESCO to 411911.
DURINGAND AFTER the storm:
  • DO NOT WALK THROUGH FLOWING WATER – Drowning is the number onecause of flood deaths.  Most of these drownings occur during flashfloods.  Flash flood waters move at very fast speeds and can rollboulders, sweep away cars, tear out trees, destroy buildings, and obliteratebridges.  Six inches of swiftly moving water can knock you off of yourfeet.  If you MUSTwalk through a flooded area, use a pole or stick toensure that the ground is still there and solid, even where the water is notflowing.
  • DO NOT DRIVETHROUGH A FLOODED AREA – More people drown in their cars than anywhereelse.  Cars can be swept away in just 2 feet of moving water.  Do notdrive around road barriers.  They are there for a reason.  The roador bridge may be washed out or structurally unsound.  If your car becomestrapped in floodwaters, abandon it immediately and climb to higher ground. Many deaths have resulted from attempts to move stalled vehicles. TURN AROUND, DON’T DROWN
  • AVOIDPOWER LINES AND ELECTRICAL WIRES – Electrocution isalso a major killer in floods.  Electrical current can travel throughwater.  Report downed power lines to your utility company or localemergency manager. Always assume a downed wire is a live wire.  The number to PECO is 1-800-841-4141;the number to PPL is 1-800-342-5775.
  • LOOK BEFORE YOU STEP – After a flood, the ground and floors arecovered with debris, including broken bottles and nails.  Floors andstairs that have been covered with mud can be very slippery.
  • BE ALERT FOR GAS LEAKS – Do not turn on electric lights, but use aflashlight to inspect for damage. A spark from the light switch could cause anexplosion or fire.   Do not smoke or use candles, lanterns or openflames unless you are sure that the gas has been turned off and the area hasbeen aired out. 
  • CARBON MONOXIDE EXHAUST KILLS – Only use camping stoves,generators or other gasoline-powered machines outdoors.  Fumes fromcharcoal are especially deadly, so never use indoors.
  • CLEAN EVERYTHING THAT GETS WET – Floodwaters have probably pickedup sewage and chemicals from roads, farms and factories.  Spoiled food andflooded medicines and cosmetics are health hazards.  When in doubt, throwthem away.
  • Do NOT call 9-1-1 to report a poweroutage.  You should call your electric service provider.  Thenumber to PECO is 1-800-841-4141; the number to PPL is 1-800-342-5775.
  • Monitor local weather reports on radio,television and the internet. 
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  • Check on elderly neighbors and others thatexperience difficulty in caring for themselves or receiving or acting uponemergency instructions.

NATIONAL WEATHERSERVICE WARNINGS DEFINITIONS:


HurricaneWatch


A hurricane watch (HWA) is issuedfor a specified area for which a hurricane or a hurricane-related hazard is apossible threat within 48 hours.

Hurricane Warning


A hurricane warning (HUW) is issued when a hurricane withsustained winds of 74 mph (65 knots, 118 km/h) or higher is expectedin a specified coastal area in 36 hours[1]or less


Extreme Wind Warning


Extreme wind warnings are issued for landareas that are in the path of a landfalling category 3 or higher (major)hurricane that are expected to see 115 mph or greater winds, usuallyassociated with the eyewall. (This warning type was created after HurricaneKatrina when several tornado warnings were issued due to the extreme winds, butno actual tornadoes occurred or were forecast to occur)

Flash flood watch means a flashflood is possible in the area, because conditions are more favorable than usualfor its occurrence. A watch is a recommendation for planning, preparation, andincreased awareness (be alert for changing weather, listen for furtherinformation, and think about what to do if the danger materializes.)
Flash flood warning means aflash flood is imminent or occurring; take immediate action to protect life andproperty.
Urban and small stream advisory means to be alert regardingpotential flooding of small streams, streets, urban storm drains, underpasses,and low lying areas.
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