The governor’s office declared a State of Preparedness for all 55 counties as heavy rain is expected to hit large parts of West Virginia through Saturday. This could elevate risks for flooding and power outages throughout the state.
The city of Huntington declared a State of Emergency, citing large scale flooding. The National Weather Service has also issued flash flood warnings in the areas surrounding Huntington and Charleston.
The West Virginia Emergency Management Division recommends staying indoors as much as possible. Quick preparation tactics include keeping 72 hours worth of bottled water and non-perishable food items around the house.
Public Information Officer Lora Lipscomb says one of the most important things to do in a weather emergency is to make sure phones are charged and backup power sources are nearby. This ensures the ability to stay connected to contacts and to receive emergency alerts.
“They could be asking that you evacuate your home or not go into the area that they’re specifying,” Lipscomb said. “We ask you to please listen to those officials and follow those directions.”
If driving under a flood warning is necessary, Lipscomb recommends the “6-12 rule.”
“Six inches of water will knock an adult off their feet and sweep you away. Twelve inches of water could wash your vehicle away depending on the height of the vehicle,” Lipscomb said. “When you come to floodwater, you’re not going to know how deep it is. So back away from it and find another way home. You’ll be late, but we want you to get home.”
Lipscomb recommends checking the social media pages of your local emergency management agency or your local weather service for up-to-date info. Resources on what to do in an emergency can also be found online at ready.gov.