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Preparing for future floods

Tonko hosts forum on precautions, planning

Congressman Paul Tonko stressed the importance of preparing for floods during a public forum at Jefferson Elementary School on Wednesday, March 14.

Congressman Paul Tonko stressed the importance of preparing for floods during a public forum at Jefferson Elementary School on Wednesday, March 14. Photo by John Purcell.

— If the mighty Mohawk River ever reaches the record-breaking flood levels brought on by Tropical Storm Irene and Lee again, residents now have a wider assortment of tips and resources to draw on.

Congressman Paul Tonko hosted a forum discussing flood safety awareness at Jefferson Elementary School on Wednesday, March 14, in connection with National Flood Safety Week. A panel of experts discussed what resources are available for people to track and be aware of potential flood risks and what steps can be taken to better prepare a home for floods. State trends also indicate a shift in the level of water bodies, which could lead to increased flooding and a changing flood plain.

“Floods this past summer gripped this area particularly hard, where people lost everything for which they worked — they literally saw their life savings washed away,” Tonko said. “It behooves us to prepare and prepare well, to reach out and assist people in this current scenario, but also enable us to perhaps think about the future in a different sort of lens.”

Neal Estano, meteorologist for CBS6, said throughout his career he’s seen many floods, but nothing similar to recent flooding.

“I was working that day and we knew it was going to be a big event,” Estano said. “It wasn’t until the pictures started coming from the areas affected by the flooding … literally my jaw was dropping — that was a lot of water.”

One way residents can stay informed on emergency information for weather events is a NOAA weather radio, which Britt Westergard, senior service hydrologist of the National Weather Service, highlighted as an important tool.

Westergard compared the radio to a smoke detector people place in their homes.

“It is kind of like a smoke detector for any kind of severe weather,” she said. “As far as I am concerned, they are as important as a smoke detector in your home.”

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