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Experts say be prepared and heed warnings about flooding

High water on Western Avenue in Lynn on Aug. 19.
High water on Western Avenue in Lynn on Aug. 19.Christiana Botic/Christiana Botic for The Boston Globe

The powerful weather system bringing torrential rainfall to Massachusetts late Wednesday and Thursday could create flooding issues for residents and communities along rivers and streams and emergency officials were offering issuing safety recommendations.

“Flooding is the most common hazard in Massachusetts. Some floods develop slowly, while flash floods can occur within minutes or hours after a storm or containment system break,” according to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.

- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has an on-line tool that let people check their address and see if the location is in a flood zone. It’s called the FEMA Flood Map Service Center and its available here.

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- Flood water can rise very quickly and it does not have to become very deep for it to pose a threat. According to the National Weather Service, a flood that is just six inches of fast moving water can knock over an adult and drag them downstream. So? Don’t go wading in flood water and especially not in an area where a flash flood is active, the weather service warns.

- Prepare your home. Move precious items to higher floors, charge up electronics. and if you have a sump pump, test it now and make sure that essential tool is fully operational before the rains come. “Make a record of your personal property by taking photos or videos of your belongings. Store these records in a safe place,’' MEMA suggests.

- A lot of data has been developed by government agencies about flooding concerns. But the best early warning system is probably among people who live in low lying areas near streams and rivers and other fresh water bodies in the state - they already know if they are at risk based on past experience.

“For this particular storm... this is not a coastal storm this is not a storm surge flooding,” said Christopher Besse, spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency. “This is really a rain event...Over the years, people may know those areas prone to flooding.”

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He added: “The real message is making sure people as best they can, understand the risk given where they live. If people do live near an area near a river, keep an eye on that. If the river starts approaching and getting closer than it - it’s time to leave.”

- Heed emergency warnings by officials.

Coincidentally, Gov. Baker Wednesday proclaimed September emergency preparedness month.




John R. Ellement can be reached at john.ellement@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.