Public Safety

Erie County Department of Public Safety building

The Department of Public Safety provides for the safety and welfare of the public through 911 communications and emergency management coordination.

Floods are one of the most common hazards in the United States, but not all floods are alike. Some floods develop slowly, while others such as flash floods can develop in just a few minutes and without visible signs of rain. Flash floods can occur within a few minutes or hours of excessive rainfall, a dam or levee failure or a sudden release of water held by an ice jam. Overland flooding, the most common type of flooding event, typically occurs when waterways such as rivers or streams overflow their banks as a result of rainwater or a possible levee breach and cause flooding in surrounding areas. It can also occur when rainfall or snowmelt exceeds the capacity of underground pipes, or streets and drains designed to carry flood water away from urban areas.

Be aware of flood hazards no matter where you live or work, especially if you are in low-lying areas, near water, behind a levee, or downstream from a dam. Even very small streams, gullies, creeks, culverts, dry streambeds or low-lying ground that appear harmless in dry weather can flood.

Know these terms to help understand flood hazards:

  • Flood Watch – Flooding is possible; tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio or television for information.
  • Flash Flood Watch – Flash flooding is possible. Be prepared to move to higher ground; listen to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio or television for information.
  • Flood Warning – Flooding is occurring or will occur soon; if advised to evacuate, do so immediately.
  • Flash Flood Warning – A flash flood is occurring; seek higher ground on foot immediately.

Take Action: Make a plan, be prepared, and help others do the same.

  • Sign up for emergency alerts.

To prepare for, and protect against, a flood, you should:

  • Build an emergency kit.
  • Make a family communications plan.
  • Avoid building in a floodplain unless you elevate and reinforce your home.
  • Elevate the furnace, water heater and electric panel in your home if you live in an area that has a high flood risk.
  • Consider installing “check valves” to prevent flood water from backing up into the drains of your home.
  • If feasible, construct barriers to stop floodwater from entering the building and seal walls in basements with waterproofing compounds.

Make an Emergency Plan:

  • Identify three places – one in your neighborhood, one in your town, and one out of town – to meet family and friends in the event of an emergency. Make sure that all locations are in higher elevation and offer protection from the elements.
  • Learn how you will get to your out-of-town location; determine your evacuation routes.
  • Write down information on important locations like workplaces, schools, daycares, houses of worship, doctor’s offices, hospitals, etc.
  • Make sure you take into account everyone’s needs, such as any medical concerns, communications, etc. Don’t forget to include your pets in your plan as well.
  • Know how you will learn important information after a disaster (radio, warning sirens, reverse 911, etc.).
  • Share contact information with everyone (friends, family and out-of-town contacts).
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