Storm & Flood Preparedness

What You Can Do to Prepare for the Next Storm or Flood

Heavy rains and flooding can occur at any time. With an average annual rainfall of 43.25 inches, the state of Pennsylvania gets 4.1 more inches of rain than the national average of 39.17 inches.

Since around 1985, Pittsburgh has had an average annual rainfall of 38.19 inches, which is 0.98 inches less than the average nationwide, and 12% less than the average in Pennsylvania. As you know, spring/summer 2015 saw more than its share of rain, as several areas received more than 10 inches of rain in the month of June alone, which is over a quarter of our average annual rainfall.

Officials recommend that Pennsylvania residents prepare now for the next storm or flood. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), there are some simple actions you can take to lower your chances of flood property losses and to make sure your family is safe.

Creating & Keeping Records Safe

Create a file for your personal information and keep it in a safe deposit box or in a waterproof container in your home. The file should contain the following:

  • Life and property insurance policies and your agent's contact information
  • A copy of your deed if you own real estate
  • Financial records and bank account numbers
  • An inventory of your possessions
  • Photographs of each room and its contents
  • Critical documents such as wills, trusts, and medical directives

Preparing Your Home

  • Keep your sump pump in good working order
  • Clean out debris from gutters and downspouts regularly so that rainwater can flow properly
  • Keep fuel tanks anchored to prevent them from floating away and possibly causing harm
  • Raise electrical items such as switches, circuit breakers, and wiring at least 12 inches above the point you think flood waters might reach
  • If possible, raise the furnace, water heater, and washer and dryer onto cement blocks at least 12 inches above the point you think flood waters might reach

Safeguarding Your Family

  • Make a safety kit with a 3-day supply of drinking water and canned food, a can opener, first aid items, blankets, a National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) radio, and a flashlight with batteries
  • Put emergency contact telephone numbers by each phone; program them into your cell phones; post them on the refrigerator; and teach your children to dial 911
  • Know your community's evacuation plan and practice the flood evacuation route with your family; find safe routes from home, work, and school-those on higher ground
  • Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to be the contact for your family in case of an emergency
  • Make plans to protect and care for your pets
  • Purchase flood insurance, as you will be glad you have an insurance settlement to help you recover from any losses you incur

To find a flood insurance agent, visit FEMA's Flood Insurance page and enter your address. For more information on emergency preparations, visit or, or call FEMA's Helpline at 800-621-3362 between 7 am and 10 pm daily. Those with speech or hearing impairments can call Teletypewriters (TTY) 800-462-7585.

Source: FEMA