Rapid response

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Monday's flooding in Cassville produced a rapid and well organized response from local emergency personnel. We were impressed with how quickly emergency workers were able to meet the needs of area residents whose homes, businesses and vehicles were threatened by rising water. Our police, sheriff's department, ambulance crews and city workers made sure the citizens of Cassville were safe and that people's property was as protected as possible.

It was also amazing to see how quickly area residents shared their photos of flooding and water rescues with the world at large through Facebook and other social networking sites. We joined this modern phenomenom by posting short videos of the flooding on our websites and our Facebook pages as the flood event was unfolding. We also are providing our readers with a full account of Monday's flood in today's print edition of the newspaper along with a host of pictures that were taken by our staff members as well as community members who emailed some of their best photos to us.

As we review yesterday's events, there is one piece of advice we'd like to offer local citizens that could help make the emergency response even more seamless next time around. If you don't have to be out during a weather-related emergency, then stay at home. People are naturally curious and love to see disasters firsthand, but in life and death situations, like Monday's rising flood waters, this desire to get in on the action can actually cause more harm than good. Too often, well-meaning motorists become part of the problem by getting stranded on water-covered roads while they are taking a ride around town to view the flooding. It's hard to assess the depth of water on roads and the speed with which the water is travelling over the roads. The best way to keep from becoming part of the disaster relief effort yourself is to park your vehicle and stay at home.

In addition, here are some flood response tips that you can cut out and keep on your refrigerator in case more spring rains cause the waters to rise again.

* Know your area's flood risk. There is the possibility of flooding if it has been raining heavily for several hours or steadily raining for several days.

* Listen to your NOAA Weather Radio or visit your local newspaper website for updated flood information.

* When a flood watch is issued, be prepared to act quickly and move to higher ground. If possible, move furniture, valuables and equipment to a higher floor of your home. If you have only one floor, place items on shelves, tables or countertops.

* Fill your vehicle's gas tank in case an evacuation is ordered.

* If you are driving and come upon rapidly rising waters, turn around and find another route.

* Move quickly to higher ground away from rivers, streams, creeks and storm drains.

* If your car stalls in rapidly rising waters, abandon it immediately and climb to higher ground.

Floods need to be taken seriously, and in a city that is located at the juncture of seven different valleys, citizens need to be prepared and ready to act. Be safe and be smart.

Lisa Schlichtman