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Surviving the next flood

June 29, 2006

Mother Nature has shown her nasty side in the last few days, pouring record amounts of water on the region and tragically turning a Frederick County creek into a surging stream that killed three young adults who already had been rescued once.

We salute and commend all those citizens and rescue workers who risked injury and the loss of their own lives to save others. We urge citizens who live in low-lying areas or who travel through them to use extra care until the water from this storm recedes.

It is always a bad idea to attempt to drive through standing water that is more than an inch deep.

Different vehicles have different ground clearance and may also vary in their ability to tolerate water on electrical systems. It's just not worth the risk; being stranded on one side of a stream is better than being swept away by it.

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The National Weather Service (NWS) recommends that those in areas where flooding might occur pay attention to rainfall both in your area and upstream.

Know where the high ground in your area is and don't wait too long to head there if you see that the water is rising.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency warns people seeking shelter not to attempt to wade through water that is more than knee-deep. Even then, if you're unsure, don't do it.

Listen to the TV and radio reports and know the meaning of the various "alerts."

A Flash Flood Watch means it is possible there will be a flood in the area identified.

A Flash Flood Warning means that a flash flood is already occurring or will soon occur. Move to higher ground immediately.

If you think it can't happen here, please reconsider that thought. NWS reports that flooding is the largest cause of weather-related deaths in the United States.

Consider also that many homeowners' insurance policies do not cover flood damage. Policies, which take effect 30 days after purchase, are written by National Flood Insurance Program, which is administered by FEMA. Olicies can be purchased through commercial insurance agents.

With proper planning, lives and a lifetime's worth of hard work can be saved. Don't wait until the next storm to look at what your family's needs are.

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