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Cranberry Community News

Posted on: August 19, 2019

Manager's Blog on Storm Damage

Waiting for the deluge 

There’s hardly been a TV newscast in the past few years that doesn’t include at least one bad weather story.  Hurricanes, tornadoes and hail storms have battered extensive areas up and down the east and gulf coasts.  Flooding has plagued the Great Plains and Midwest.  Drought and wildfires have scorched the west coast and mountain states.  Hurricane and fire seasons have extended into nearly year-round events.

Cranberry has been tremendously fortunate in that any bad weather we’ve experienced so far has been manageable.  But that’s by no means a guarantee that we can’t get clobbered by a new wind, rain or snow storm.  I realize, of course, that there are special risks associated with living along a coastline.  But there are areas of the country even farther inland than we are that have had disastrous weather events.  Even in the Pittsburgh area, we have seen landslides along with flooding just this year.

The property costs of these weather disasters have been staggering.  And there’s no reasonable building code we could adopt that would safeguard homes against the sort of hurricane damage we’ve seen in Florida or the widespread flooding that took place in the Carolinas.  On top of the damage to homes and businesses, there is major damage to the public infrastructure.  Roads, bridges, treatment plants, and more have sustained tremendous losses, and the cost of repairing or replacing them is immense.  Beyond that, the risks to public health are potentially lethal.

FEMA and Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection are taking modest steps to bolster our protections.  But mostly their initiatives have to do with reassigning the costs of flood damage and stormwater maintenance to homeowners and units of local government.  To be sure, Cranberry isn’t alone in having to pay those costs.  Other municipalities in Pennsylvania, and even entire states like Maryland, have imposed fees on residents, businesses and even nonprofit organizations to offset those costs.  Cranberry is also exploring how to pay for these increased responsibilities.  I anticipate a decision on this issue by early November.

No matter what we finally decide to do, it won’t remove the risk of severe storm damage.  Normal homeowner’s policies don’t cover flooding.  But you can buy flood coverage through the National Flood Insurance Program.  The Township recently worked with FEMA to update Cranberry’s floodplain maps.  That effort significantly enhanced our residents’ ability residents to accurately assess their need for flood coverage.  This website includes the details in the following link [https://www.cranberrytownship.org/2143/FEMA-flood-plain-maps].  

There are, however, plenty of low-cost and no-cost things you can do on your own.  For example, learn and practice an evacuation route.  Figure out in advance what supplies to collect such as medications, pet needs, batteries, and charging devices.  Put important documents in waterproof containers.  Create digital copies for cloud storage.  Move valuables to higher levels.  Listen to NOAA Weather Radio or local alerts for current emergency information and instructions. 

Of course, there’s a lot more information available online, and I would encourage you to take advantage of our normally pleasant weather to familiarize yourself with the steps that apply to keeping you and your family safe in case things turn sour.

I would welcome hearing your thoughts about our emergency preparedness.  You can reach me at jerry.andree@cranberrytownship.org

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