By MELINDA WILLIAMS
Pulaski County and other parts of western and central Virginia are under the gun for possible flooding and severe storms through Wednesday.
According to the National Weather Service (NWS), flash flooding, river flooding and severe storms capable of producing straight-line winds and isolated tornadoes are possible in Virginia through tomorrow.
A flood watch went into effect at 4 a.m. this morning and will continue through midnight Thursday. A flood watch means citizens should be prepared since conditions are favorable for flooding; but it doesn’t mean flooding will occur.
A flood warning means action should be taken because flooding is imminent or occurring.
As of Tuesday morning, NWS was projecting a range of 1.5 inches of rain in northwestern Pulaski County to three inches in the southeastern section of the county through Wednesday. The highest rainfall totals — from four to five inches — are expected south of Roanoke in the Southside and Piedmont region.
According to Ready.gov, citizens should always be aware of the flooding hazards where they live and work, especially if they are in low-lying areas in the vicinity of water or downstream from a dam. Even small streams, gullies, creeks, culverts, dry streambeds and other areas that appear harmless can become a hazard for flash flooding.
If flooding should occur, Ready.gov recommends citizens stay informed of conditions through local media or by visiting www.weather.gov/blacksburg or through mobile.weather.gov.
If there is a possibility flooding could occur in your area, move to higher ground as soon as possible, do not wait for instructions to evacuate. If there is time, bring in outdoor furniture and move essential items to an upper floor of your home.
Turn off utilities at the main switch box and disconnect electrical appliances, but do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.
Should you have to evacuate your home or workplace, do not walk through moving water because as little as six inches of moving water can sweep you off your feet. Also, use a stick to check the firmness of ground ahead of you if you must walk through standing water.
Never drive through flooded areas, but if floodwaters start to rise around your vehicle, abandon it and move to higher ground. If your vehicle is trapped in rapidly moving water, stay inside the vehicle, and move onto the roof if water starts to rise inside the vehicle.
After flooding has subsided, stay away from flooded areas to allow emergency services and police to assist people in need. If you evacuated your home, do not return until authorities indicate it is safe to do so.
Do not drive around barricades placed in areas where roads are water covered. The pavement may have been washed away or may collapse due to damage.
Do not walk in floodwater as it might be electrically charged by underground or downed power lines or may contain contaminants such as oil, gasoline or raw sewage.
Make sure water supplies have not been contaminated and are safe to drink. When cleaning areas affected by the flooding, use disinfectants to remove contaminants.
If you hire cleanup or repair contractors, check references and be sure they are qualified to do the job. Be wary of people who drive through neighborhoods offering help in cleaning up or repairing your home.