With the potential for severe weather and flash flooding across the plains and several Midwestern states over the July 4th holiday weekend, staff at the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Region VII office are coordinating with state and local officials in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska in preparation for the potential storms and urges the public to be prepared and stay informed.

“With many folks taking to the roads over the July 4th weekend, and in anticipation of heavy rains throughout the Region, we urge residents to stay informed through multiple means: monitor digital media feeds for updates, listen to NOAA Weather Radios and local newscasts, and follow the instructions provided by local emergency officials,” said FEMA Region VII Administrator Beth Freeman. “It’s important to remember that flash flooding can occur within minutes and with little notice, and even large SUVs and pickups can be swept away in only 2 feet of water. Turn around, don’t drown!”

We also urge residents to download and use the FEMA smartphone app. The app includes weather alerts, an interactive checklist of items needed in an emergency and what to do before, during and after specific disasters. The free app can be downloaded in the App Store for Apple devices and Google Play for Android devices.

Preparing for Severe Weather Now

This severe weather threat is a reminder that everyone needs a family emergency plan as we can’t always anticipate when or where a disaster might strike. For more information on creating your family’s emergency plan, visit http://www.ready.gov/make-a-plan.

To prepare for power outages and the disruption of essential services, FEMA urges families to prepare an emergency supply kit for their homes and cars, http://www.ready.gov/build-a-kit. When preparing a kit, remember water, medications, and items needed for the well-being of your pets.

Responding to Severe Weather

If you have severe weather in your area, keep in mind these safety tips:

Become familiar with the terms used to identify a severe weather hazard and discuss with your family what to do if a watch or warning is issued. Terms used to describe weather hazards include the following:
Watch: Meteorologists are monitoring an area or region for the formation of a specific type of threat (e.g. flooding, severe thunderstorms, or tornados).

Warning: Specific life and property threatening conditions are occurring and imminent. Take appropriate safety precautions.

Mobile homes, even if tied down, offer little protection from tornadoes and should be abandoned. A mobile home can overturn very easily even if precautions have been taken to tie down the unit. Residents of mobile homes must plan in advance and identify safe shelter in a nearby building.
Be aware that flash flooding can occur within minutes and with little notice. If there is any possibility of a flash flood, move immediately to higher ground. Do not wait for instructions to move. Do not drive through flood water. Turn around, don’t drown!
Remember even large SUVs can be lifted and swept away in 2 feet of moving water.

Do not touch downed power lines or objects in contact with downed lines. Report downed power lines and electrical hazards to the police and the utility company.
After a disaster, be aware of possible structural, electrical or gas-leak hazards in your home. Contact your local city or county building inspectors for information on structural safety codes and standards and before going back to a property with downed power lines, or the possibility of a gas leak. They may also offer suggestions on finding a qualified contractor to do work for you.
Injury may occur when people walk amid disaster debris and enter damaged buildings. Wear sturdy shoes or boots, long sleeves and gloves when handling or walking on or near debris.