The American Red Cross is ready to respond along the East Coast where heavy rains and winds may bring significant flooding from the Carolinas to New England over the next several days.
Red Cross chapters are closely monitoring the weather and are ready to open shelters if and when they are needed. In North Carolina, chapters there have shelters open for people needing to evacuate their neighborhoods. Up and down the East Coast, Red Cross chapters are working with government agencies and have volunteers, supplies and emergency vehicles ready to respond if needed.
Two storm systems are moving up the eastern half of the country, predicted to bring as much as six inches of rain to the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast through Friday evening. Six to ten inches of rain are possible from southeast Pennsylvania down to the Chesapeake Bay. In New England, wind gusts as high as 60 mph are possible through Friday. Isolated severe thunderstorms which may include hail, gusty winds and tornadoes are possible across the Mid-Atlantic region today.
Those residing in the affected areas should know the difference between a watch and warning. A flood or flash flood watch means flooding is possible in your area. A flood or flash flood warning indicates flooding is already occurring or will occur soon in your area. A tornado watch means tornadoes are possible and you should be ready to act quickly if a warning is issued. A tornado warning indicates a tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Tornado warnings mean imminent danger to life and property is possible. You should immediately go under ground to a basement, storm cellar or an interior room.
The Red Cross has steps people should take to remain safe if their neighborhood is affected by flooding:
- Listen to area radio and television stations and a NOAA Weather Radio for possible flood warnings and reports of flooding in progress or other critical information from the National Weather Service (NWS).
- Be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice.
- When a flood or flash flood warning is issued for your area, head for higher ground and stay there.
- Stay away from floodwaters. If you come upon a flowing stream where water is above your ankles, stop, turn around and go another way. Six inches of swiftly moving water can sweep you off of your feet.
- If you come upon a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water.
- Keep children out of the water. They are curious and often lack judgment about running water or contaminated water.
- Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood danger.
If a tornado warning is issued for your area, watch for the danger signs – dark, often greenish clouds; a wall cloud, cloud of debris, large hail, a funnel cloud or roaring noise. If your area is under a tornado warning, the Red Cross urges you to keep these safety tips in mind:
- The safest place to be is an underground shelter, basement or safe room.
- If no underground shelter or safe room is available, a small, windowless interior room or hallway on the lowest level of a sturdy building is the safest alternative.
- Mobile homes are not safe during tornadoes or other severe winds.
- Do not seek shelter in a hallway or bathroom of a mobile home.
- If you have access to a sturdy shelter or a vehicle, abandon your mobile home immediately.
- Go to the nearest sturdy building or shelter immediately, using your seat belt if driving.
- Do not wait until you see the tornado.
- If you are caught outdoors, seek shelter in a basement, shelter or sturdy building. If you cannot quickly walk to a shelter:
- Immediately get into a vehicle, buckle your seat belt and try to drive to the closest sturdy shelter.
- If flying debris occurs while you are driving, pull over and park. Now you have the following options as a last resort:
- Stay in the car with the seat belt on. Put your head down below the windows, covering with your hands and a blanket if possible.
- If you can safely get noticeably lower than the level of the roadway, exit your car and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands.
- Your choice should be driven by your specific circumstances.
For more information on what you should do if flooding or tornadoes threaten your community, visit www.redcross.org.