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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.

— The radio will turn itself on if a weather warning is issued and alerts someone with “honks and beeps,” she said. The radio costs around $30 to $40 and is typically available at electronics or “big box” stores, she said.

“Even if it is the middle of the night, it turns itself on … and lets you know something is going on you need to take some kind of action for,” she said.

Another device that can be used to alert of an impending flood is one most people carry with them all time — a mobile phone.

“You can have your river text you or send you an email,” Ward Freeman, of the U.S. Geological Service, said. “It is a useful tool.”

To receive such a message, Freeman said people can go to the website ny.water.usgs.gov and click on what river or waterway they’d like to informed about. Then you specify what water level threshold to send the notification.

“Perhaps you know your driveway floods at 23 feet or the road you need to access your house floods at 25 feet, maybe you want to set it for 22 feet so you can start moving your or getting things out of your basement,” he said.

In 2011, 73 of New York’s 300 active USGS river gauge sites recorded the highest levels ever seen, Freeman said. A large majority of the sites have been active for more than 50 years. Hurricane Agnes was touted as the most significant widespread flooding in the state, he said, but only 22 peak water levels were recorded during the 1972 floods.

Lake Champlain had an “amazing” level of flooding in 2011, he said, with it rising above the flood stage for 66 days.

“We have never seen it remain above the flood stage for that many days,” he said. “It was a full foot higher than we have ever recorded at the site before.

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