Jan. 18--MURPHYSBORO -- Preparation is key for those living in floodplains across Southern Illinois, according to representatives of Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA), Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), Illinois Department of Insurance, National Weather Service-Paducah, American Red Cross and Illinois Emergency Services Management Association.
On Wednesday, the agencies stopped at the Jackson County Health Department as part of the FloodPrep Tour.
"We are here to help people prepare of the upcoming flood season," said Rebecca Clark, of IEMA.
A news release from IDNR and IEMA said the organizations involved in the FloodPrep Tour wanted to educate residents about the 2020 flood outlook and flood preparation.
Clark said this is the time to prepare for flooding, whether it is flash flooding or long-term flooding, like the region saw in 2019 when some areas saw floodwaters for 120 days. Although, heavy rain the weekend before the event shows those living in or near flood plains should always be prepared for rising water.
"The question is: What did you learn from last year that you can improve this year?" Clark said.
She added that every family should have an emergency plan and should pack bags when the possibility of flooding exists.
Steve Eddy, meteorologist in charge, and Rick Shanklin, warning coordination meteorologist of National Weather Service in Paducah, said the previous weekend may be an inkling of things to come.
"Thirteen of the last 15 months, precipitation has been above normal. When you stay warmer than usual, you tend to stay wetter than usual," Shanklin said.
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"The word is prepare," Eddy said. "I'm guilty. I'll put it off until next week."
Make sure you have rotated fresh water and medication in your emergency kit. If you don't have an emergency kit, create one. Also, know where to get information.
Shanklin added that there are a lot of websites with great information that are reliable. It's good to do your research before flood season.
Paul Osman, IDNR State Flood Plane manager, was on hand with maps to show residents. He said Southern Illinois has valleys that are prone to flooding, as well as broad, flat, flood-plain areas along rivers.
Renysha Brown, preparedness and outreach bureau chief for IEMA, was available to talk about grants and mitigation measures.
Caron Brookens and other representatives of Illinois Department of Insurance told those attending the FloodPrep Tour that flood insurance exists for everyone, whether through the National Flood Insurance Program or through private insurance companies.
Another part of preparedness is documenting your belongings in case of a flood or another natural disaster. They recommend an app from National Association of Insurance Commissioners. For more information and a link to download the app, visit homeinsureuonline.org.
Claudia Blackman, a volunteer with the American Red Cross, also recommended several Red Cross apps for emergencies. For the flooding app, text GETFLOOD to 90999. Other apps can be downloaded by sending a text message to 90999, including GETNADO for tornadoes, GETQUAKE for earthquakes and GETEMERGENCY.
The Red Cross has many emergency resources on their website, including extensive information on creating an emergency kit. For more information, visit redcross.org.
Officials also met with students at Shawnee Junior Senior High School Wednesday morning. Students gave a presentation on what they have learned about flooding in and near their school district, which includes parts of Union and Jackson counties.
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