Hurricane Sandy Looms

The early effects of Hurricane Sandy began moving into Pennsylvania late Sunday and with the heaviest rainfall expected on the front side of the massive storm, the flash flooding risk begins today.

The National Weather Service is projecting as much as 10 inches of rainfall associated with Sandy, with the heaviest rains coming in the southeast and southern tier portions of the Commonwealth. Rain will be the main threat on Monday, with high winds taking over late in the day and into Tuesday. Officials are reminding residents to clear their porches and yards of items that might become projectiles in Tropical Storm-strength winds. The winds could also knock out power for large areas of the state, much like they did in last year’s Hurricane Irene.

President Obama has declared a disaster emergency for Pennsylvania and other states in the storm’s path. That will allow Governor Tom Corbett to apply for federal assistance for the steps taken to prepare for Sandy.

Corbett Signs Disaster Declaration Ahead of Hurricane Irene


Gov. Corbett briefs the media after declarating a statewide disaster emergency.

By declaring a statewide disaster emergency, Governor Tom Corbett says state agencies will have the flexibility they need to provide help to local emergency responders.  It also authorizes the state to use all resources and personnel as necessary.   1,500 National Guard troops have been pre-positioned in central and eastern PA.  “Hopefully we won’t have to use them, but they’re going to be in the area and be there.”  Corbett said at a Friday afternoon briefing. 

The governor urges every Pennsylvania citizen to heed the safety advice and warnings being issued by emergency managers across the eastern half of the state.  “You prepare for the worst, and you pray for the best,” Corbett says of Hurricane Irene

Southeastern Pennsylvania, in particular, has been saturated by rain.  Philadelphia has already set a record for monthly rainfall totals with 13-inches – before Irene even arrives.  But, Corbett cautions that nobody should take the situation lightly.  “Folks in the central part of the state, I’d be watching this storm.  I’m going to be watching this storm, very, very closely.” 

Governor Corbett tells reporters he’s cleared his scheduled through Monday, and will be splitting time between the Governor’s Residence and PEMA emergency operations center in Harrisburg.  Pennsylvanians can find all the resources they need for emergency planning online.

Survey Shows Social Media Being Used More Often When Disaster Strikes

A new survey shows Americans are relying more on social media and texting when disaster strikes.   “Get Ready,  America!, the National Hurricane Survival Initiative, has released a survey that shows social media and texting are becoming the leading ways people will communicate in a disaster. 

The Sachs/Mason-Dixon commissioned poll found 72% of Americans are members of a social network. 45% of them say they’d rely on it to communicate with friends and family in a disaster and another 24% say they might.

There are some demographic differences. Social media is more prevalent among younger Americans, with 91% of those 18 to 34 connected. 63% of those respondents said they would use those platforms to communicate in a disaster.

For people ages 35 to 59, 75% said they use social media and 44% of them would use it to communicate in a disaster.

Ryan Duffy, managing director of Sachs Digital, says they’re recommending everyone have a mobile phone as part of their disaster kit.  

Duffy says cell phone companies look for areas hardest hit by natural disasters and bring in Cell on Wheels units to provide access if there’s a downed cell phone tower.

Duffy says it really can save a life if you have the right information.  He believes it’s worth everyone’s while to follow local emergency service agencies on Facebook or Twitter and to have a greater sense of awareness when disaster strikes.

ReadyPA is currently on Facebook. The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency is still reviewing Twitter.