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News | Sept. 20, 2018

It’s never too late to prepare for extreme weather

By Natalie Skelton DLA Aviation Public Affairs Office

The signs of autumn are more than turning leaves and crisp air: Virginians remain at risk for flooding related to tornadoes and tropical storms through November, and tornadoes are just as likely to wreak havoc in the fall as they are any other time of year. September is National Preparedness Month and there’s no time like the present to assess your ability to weather severe flooding and tornadoes.

DLA Installation Operations Richmond’s Security and Emergency Services is the primary office overseeing weather preparation and response efforts on Defense Supply Center Richmond.

Installation Operations maintains emergency weather preparation and response practices year-round, including alerting personnel to severe weather threats with the aid of a Federal Emergency Management Agency developed app. The app offers disaster safety tips, interactive lists for building and storing emergency kits, meeting location information and additional disaster-specific information and guidance. The free app is available for download on Apple and Android mobile devices.

A statewide tornado drill is a yearly opportunity to prepare Virginians for tornado emergencies and to test public warning systems.

“An actual tornado warning isn’t the time to figure out how to keep your loved ones, co-workers, friends and neighbors safe. Virginians should use the statewide tornado drill as an opportunity to test their tornado emergency procedures and discuss preparedness efforts for these deadly and unexpected storms which can touch down in Virginia throughout the year,” said Virginia Department of Emergency Management State Coordinator Jeff Stern.

While there are several steps that can be taken ahead of anticipated—or unforeseen—weather events, even last-minute preparations can help mitigate the effects of flooding and high winds. The Red CrossFEMA and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management have provided tips for prepping and responding to flooding and tornadoes. Below are a few key points to remember:

Before a flood: Know Your Alerts Flood

Know where you live and work. FEMA works with local communities to identify flood risks from rivers, dams and levees, as well as coastlines. A Flood Insurance Rate Map is drawn and distributed to communities that use it to adopt and enforce floodplain regulations. If you live in a designated floodplain, chances are your lender (if you own property) will require you to purchase flood insurance. If you rent a property in a floodplain, FEMA advises purchasing flood insurance separately from renter’s insurance.

Review your coverage. If you have flood insurance, review your coverage with your insurance agent. The National Flood Insurance Program offers two types of insurance: building and personal property (contents of a structure). Make sure your coverage is comprehensive enough to cover everything you want repaired or replaced if it is damaged by flooding.

Secure important documents. Document the property you want the coverage to include in the event you must file a flood claim. Keep important documents and objects in watertight containers, or move them to a location not likely to be affected by flooding.

Secure your property. Clear debris from gutters and downspouts. If you have a home generator, make sure you have enough fuel to provide power for the amount of time you anticipate remaining in your home. Move furniture and valuables to high points or another location that’s unlikely to flood. If you own a sump pump, make sure it works and consider installing a battery-operated backup in case of power failure.

Designate an emergency contact. Let family, friends, and/or co-workers know if you will be evacuating or remaining in your home during a flooding event. Provide current contact information and alternate means of contact if you are evacuating.

After the flood:

If you experience severe property damage or loss that is not covered by insurance, FEMA provides additional assistance through its Individuals and Households Program. IHP helps with the following critical assistance:

  • Temporary housing

  • Some home repairs

  • Property replacement

  • Some additional expenses such as immediate medical, transportation, funeral and personal property expenses.

Know Your Alerts Tornado

Equally unpredictable and just as damaging are tornadoes, but knowing how to prepare and stay safe can make all the difference. Tornadoes are more often associated with the Midwest and Southeast, but they can occur anywhere and have been reported in all 50 states. Tornadoes are rotating columns of air that extend from a storm cloud to the ground. Winds can blow in excess of 200 miles per hour and cause extensive damage as they travel along the ground.

The National Weather Service recommends these steps to prepare for possible tornado activity in your area:

Know the signs. Look for a rotating, funnel-shaped cloud or an approaching cloud of debris; listen for a loud roar, similar to a freight train.

Create a communication plan. Have a family emergency plan that includes where to meet or how to stay in touch if not everyone is in the same location when a tornado arrives.

Designate a safe place. Pick a safe room in your home, and learn where to gather at workplaces and schools. The safest rooms are interior rooms with no windows that are located on the lowest level of a structure.

Practice your plan. Don’t wait for severe weather to practice storm safety. Participate in school and office weather drills, and conduct a drill at home with your family.

In the event of a tornado, rely on established emergency response and communication plans, and keep a weather radio nearby to stay on top of alerts. If you are outside when a tornado touches down, seek shelter inside the nearest sturdy building—not a shed or storage building. If you are driving, continue to the nearest shelter. If no shelter is around, park and get down in your vehicle, covering your head, or leave your car and find a ditch or ravine in which to take shelter.

If a tornado has caused damage in your immediate area, reach out to your emergency contacts first. Then, if it’s safe to approach damaged property, walk through and take inventory. Wear long sleeves and long pants, sturdy shoes and gloves. Do not enter damaged buildings, and contact authorities if you see fallen power lines. Do not approach or enter any structure where fallen power lines are near or on the structure.