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Spring brings threat of severe weather, flooding

Local, state and national organizations are encouraging Hoosiers to prepare now for thunderstorms, tornadoes and flooding as part of Severe Weather Preparedness Week.

State agencies, including the Indiana Public Safety Commission, Indiana Department of Education, Indiana State Police, Indiana Department of Transportation, Indiana Broadcasters Association and the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, in cooperation with the National Weather Service, the American Red Cross, local emergency management agencies and the amateur radio community, will be observing Severe Weather Preparedness Week March 16-22.

While severe weather can strike at any time, volatile weather frequently accompanies the arrival of spring. Historically, Indiana has experienced some of the worst thunderstorms, tornadoes, and flooding incidents during the spring months. Planning and preparedness can help minimize weather-related deaths, injuries, and property damage.

As part of Severe Weather Preparedness Week, a test of the Emergency Alert System will sound both in the morning and evening Thursday, March 20, on commercial radio, television networks, and all-hazards radios. These drills provide an excellent opportunity for families, schools, and businesses to practice their weather safety action plan.

In addition to knowing what to do during a severe weather emergency, it is also important to be prepared in advance. All Hoosiers who are able are encouraged to purchase an all-hazards radio for their home. These battery-powered radios air more than 60 emergency alerts such as hazardous weather and other local area warnings, including up-to-date weather information broadcast directly from the National Weather Service.

All citizens are also encouraged to prepare or update a disaster preparedness kit.

Important items to include in a family disaster kit:

·        Food and water for three days (includes one gallon of water per person, per day);

·        Battery operated all hazards radio;

·        Flashlight;

·        Extra batteries for radio and flashlight;

·        First aid kit;

·        Extra clothing, sturdy shoes, rain gear, blankets, and personal hygiene items;

·        List of emergency phone numbers;

·        Important documents (copies of photo ID, Social Security card, insurance and banking information);

·        Cash (Small bills. Power outages can limit ability to use ATMs and credit cards);

·        Special items (baby formula, insulin, life sustaining medication).

Finding suitable shelter is another important aspect to preparing for severe weather. If living in a mobile home or similar structure, it is important to locate a safe shelter in advance. For those living in homes or apartment buildings, residents should take shelter in the lowest level of the building, away from windows and doors.

Flooding is also an issue Hoosiers may deal with in the spring months. Floods can be very expensive, and purchasing flood insurance is one of the most cost-effective steps a homeowner can take to protect their home. FEMA’s FloodSmart website has created a tool to quickly estimate the cost of damages from various amounts of floodwater in a home. FloodSmart.gov also includes resources to help homeowners prepare their homes for a flood.

Driving on flooded roadways can often place Hoosiers and emergency response personnel in unnecessary danger. Never drive through flooded roadways, even if the water appears shallow. The road may have washed out under the surface of the water.