As tropical storm Isaias continues to advance on the Delaware Valley, the Bucks County Commissioners announced they will activate the county’s Emergency Operations Center early Tuesday to help monitor and respond to the expected high winds and heavy rains.
The EOC in Ivyland will be open from 6 a.m. to midnight, said Emergency Services Director Scott T. Forster.
Isaias is expected to arrive by early morning, bringing a predicted four to six inches of rain across the county, more in some localized areas, Forster said. Winds of 35 to 45 miles per hour are predicted, with gusts of up to 60 mph.
That combination of wind and rain could cause flash flooding, downed trees and powerlines, and moderate property damage.
Emergency management officials will be monitoring the storm at the EOC along with members of numerous county government departments, PennDOT and fire, EMS and law enforcement responders. Also represented, some of them virtually because of the COVID pandemic, will be the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, the National Guard, the Red Cross, PECO, Met-Ed and PP&L.
Forster said county officials have made sure that generators are ready for deployment at critical care facilities and shelters if needed. Mass care equipment, such as cots, walkers and other items, are ready in case temporary shelters need to be opened.
Also ready for use are generator-powered HVAC systems that can provide heating and air conditioning to critical care facilities, such as nursing homes, if needed. County and fire company water rescue teams and boats are also on standby.
The Delaware River is not expected to flood in Bucks County, but officials are watching smaller streams – the Neshaminy and Perkiomen Creeks in particular – for possible flooding.
Forster advised residents not to drive their vehicles through standing water, and to assume that any downed wires are charged and to avoid them.
If a tornado warning is issued, residents should go to an inside room on the lowest level of their home or workplace, preferably a basement.
According to the National Weather Service, rain will start overnight tonight, with the heaviest rain, flash flooding and strong winds expected throughout the day on Tuesday. Minor to moderate river flooding could last into Wednesday.
“The effects of this storm, coupled with severe weather from over the weekend in parts of eastern Pennsylvania, are a significant concern to us and our county emergency management partners,” said PEMA Director Randy Padfield. “The best way to help emergency responders is for individual families to be prepared with an emergency plan and a communications plan, so everyone knows what they need to do to stay safe.”
Padfield said the following steps are a good start in getting ready for possible flooding:
– Never walk or drive through flood water
– Learn the difference between a weather watch and weather warning, since each requires different steps to stay safe. A flood watch means that flooding may occur; residents should stay alert, closely monitor rivers and streams, and be prepared to move to high ground quickly. A flood warning means that there is actual flooding; residents should act at once and move to higher ground.
– Determine how you would leave your neighborhood if you needed to evacuate your home
– Identify where you would meet up with your family (both in your town and an out-of-town location) in the event you were separated when the flooding started
Motorists can check conditions on more than 40,000 roadway miles by visiting 511PA.com. 511PA, which is free and available 24 hours a day, provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, traffic speed information and access to more than 1,000 traffic cameras. It’s also available through a smartphone application for iPhone and Android devices, by calling 5-1-1, or by following regional Twitter alerts accessible on the 511PA website.
Families should have multiple ways to get severe weather alerts. A NOAA weather radio is an inexpensive and portable option that provides location-based weather alerts. Most models are battery-operated, but others can be powered via a USB connection, solar power or by manually cranking a handle on the unit to store power.
Many local media provide local weather alerts via text message, social media or apps that can be downloaded to a cell phone. Residents are encouraged to select one or more trusted media outlets, and sign up for the AlertPA notification system by CodeRED for emergency and weather-related alerts, health notifications, building alerts and other updates from commonwealth and federal agencies. There should never be a cost for weather alerts, other than data and texting charges that may be levied by a wireless carrier.
More information about how to prepare for an emergency, including specific information for people with specialized needs such as pets or access and functional needs, is available on the ReadyPA webpage.