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Ida Could Bring Flooding, Damaging Winds to DC Wednesday

The epic lightning show of Tuesday night will be followed by torrential rains starting Wednesday afternoon and you should exercise caution, say District agencies.

In anticipation of Tropical Depression Ida’s impact on the District, Mayor Muriel Bowser is activating the District’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) on Wednesday, Sept. 1 to ensure city services are well-coordinated between District, regional, and federal partners. The District’s EOC and Joint Information Center will operate from 12:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m.

The National Weather Service (NWS) reports Tropical Depression Ida will bring periods of heavy rain and possibly damaging winds to the District beginning around noon on Wednesday. NWS estimates the District could see anywhere from 3 to 5 inches of rain, downed trees, and possible flash flooding.

“I’ve charged our response agencies with working together to anticipate needs and ensure as minimal impact to the District as possible. We are asking residents to take Ida seriously and to pay close attention to the weather conditions and latest alerts,” said Mayor Bowser. “And if you are driving tomorrow, remember: turn around, don’t drown.”

To prepare for the impacts from Ida, residents and business owners are encouraged to:

  • Sign up for AlertDC at alertdc.dc.gov;
  • Track weather forecasts from the National Weather Service for up-to-date information on the storm timing and location;
  • Keep your devices charged;
  • Clean out gutters and drains;
  • Secure or move inside any loose furniture or other items;
  • Call 311 if you spot downed trees;
  • Install protection or move items out of any areas that typically flood;
  • Ensure that you know where insurance and other important numbers are located (and take pictures of important documents like your insurance cards); and
  • Check on neighbors who may require assistance if it is safe to do so. This includes individuals with infants, children as well as older adults, people with disabilities and others who may need help.

Flash flooding remains a serious risk as Ida moves over the District. Residents should never drive through flood waters as almost half of all flash flood deaths happen in vehicles. When in your vehicle, look out for flooding in low lying areas at bridges and at highway dips. As little as 6 inches of water may cause a driver to lose control of their vehicle.

“We can’t stress enough the importance of not driving or walking through standing flood water,” said HSEMA Director Dr. Christopher Rodriguez. “Driving through standing water not only endangers your life but risks the lives of the District’s first responders.”

Keep Yourself Safe During Flooding

  • Stay off the roads: emergency workers will be assisting people in flooded areas.
  • Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded. Roads may have weakened and could collapse under the weight of a car.
  • Stay out of floodwater. Standing water may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines or contain hazards such as human and animal waste, dangerous debris, contaminates that can lead to illness, or wild or stray animals.

Stay Safe, Post-Storm

  • If your home has flood water inside or around it, don’t walk or wade in it. The water may be contaminated by oil, gasoline, or raw sewage. Never attempt to turn off power or operate circuit breakers while standing in water.
  • Be careful when cleaning up. Wear protective clothing, including a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, work gloves and sturdy thick-soled shoes. Do not try to remove heavy debris by yourself. Use an appropriate mask if cleaning  mold or other debris. People with asthma and other lung conditions and/or immune suppression should not enter buildings with indoor water leaks or mold growth that can be seen or smelled. Children should not take part in disaster cleanup work.
  • Avoid downed power or utility lines; they may be live with deadly voltage. Stay far away and report them immediately to Pepco.
  • Use a generator correctly and safely. Keep generators dry and position them outdoors and well away from any structure. Using a generator incorrectly can lead to dangerous situations, including carbon monoxide poisoning from engine exhaust. If you start to feel sick, dizzy, or weak while using a generator, get fresh air right away.

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