UTICA, N.Y. (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY-TV) – As the rain continues throughout the week, the Utica Fire Department wants residents to stay safe and be prepared for the risk of potential flooding.
Ray Centolella, the chief fire marshall in Utica, says to be proactive rather than reactive.
In basements prone to flooding be aware of how your equipment is powered. Avoid using electrical outlets that may become submerged; this includes things such as washers and dryers, as well as water heaters and furnaces. They also recommend charging cell phones, cleaning out your gutters and water spouts, and identifying the source of the water before heavy rainfall is expected. If you know water is likely to enter your home, be prepared with sand bags.
“It may be a hardship for you while the storm is going on, but it may prevent a lot of expensive issues later,” Centolella said.
When encountering floods in the roadway, Centolella says to avoid the water and go around it. However, if you find yourself in a situation where you can’t drive around the flooding, stay with your car and call 911. Get yourself and other passengers ready to be helped out of the car as soon as the first responders arrive. If the water rises past the door, climb out the window and wait on top of the roof.
“The mayor and this administration take emergency response very seriously,” Centolella said.
“We have meetings all the time to make sure that individual departments have the resources, the personnel, the budgets, the manpower, or whatever they can to try to react to whatever natural disaster is upcoming.”
Despite being well-trained and prepared, the fire department wants to remind residents who are calling about water in their homes to be patient with first responders.
Centolella said, “If you’re having a problem, someone else might be having a problem too. You could have called 911 ten, fifteen, twenty minutes ago because your basement’s flooded, but we could be trying to extricate someone out of four feet of water in the roadway.”
Despite having important precautionary steps, flooding may still be a risk regardless of how much people prepare.