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Flooding is the most common natural disaster in the United States, and Pennsylvania has the highest flooding rate of any state. Not all floods are the same. Heavy rain can cause floods. Warm temperatures after snowfall can cause floods. Flash floods can happen even without any rain in the area. You should be ready for flooding no matter where you live, but especially if you live in a low-lying area, near water, or downstream from a dam. Even a small stream or dry creek bed can overflow and cause flooding.

Differences between a warning and a watch

Flash flood watch

A warning that flash flooding might occur due to heavy rain.

Flash flood warning

A warning that flash flooding is expected due to heavy rain.

Prepare for flooding

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During a flood

On foot

  • Keep a battery-operated AM/FM radio set to a local station and follow emergency instructions.
  • Move to higher ground if it is safe to do so.
  • Move to a higher floor if you’re caught inside by high waters. Take warm clothing, a flashlight, and a portable radio with you. Wait for help. Do not try to swim to safety.
  • Take your go bag and leave your current location if it is unsafe and you need to evacuate.
  • Avoid flooded areas when moving around outside. Do not attempt to walk across flood water deeper than your knee. Water can be much deeper than it looks.

In a vehicle

  • Avoid flooded roads. Just two feet of moving water can sweep a Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) off the road.
  • Get out and leave your car if it stalls in a flooded area.

After a flood

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