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Storm ready: What home experts say you need to protect your house from flooding

Homeowners are bracing for potential flooding as Tropical Depression Ida approaches Central Pennsylvania. Rainfall is expected to hit between 4 and 7 inches.

COLUMBIA, Pa. — Paul Reuter knows flood damage all too well. The West Hempfield Township resident once owned the former Baron Stiegal glass factory in Manheim, Lancaster County. The building had been redeveloped to include stores, a bar and dozens of apartments.

Tropical Storm Lee of 2011 changed that.

“I figure I lost about $15 million in 15 minutes,” Reuter said.

Floodwaters filled the basement club, ruining the kitchen equipment and leaving the walls to grow thick with mold.

“Everything was just totally destroyed and a foot of water on the first floor,” Reuter said. “My cat even drowned. I couldn’t get to my cat to save it.”

Reuter now helps others prepare for storms through his work as plumbing and electrical manager at EM Herr Ace Hardware in Columbia.

He was busy Tuesday as a steady flow of homeowners came in ahead of Tropical Depression Ida to buy supplies ranging from rain boots to water barriers.

“I just want to take extra precaution to get it further away from the house because there’s going to be a lot,” said Abe Barley of Washington Boro, who came in to get gutter extensions.

People are especially cautious for Ida because many parts of Central Pennsylvania have had several recent rains.

“We’ve had so much rain that the ground is saturated. There’s no place for it to go. Once you get that kind of rain, you’re bound to get water even where you don’t normally have it,” said store manager Cyndi Maley.

Maley recommended that anyone with a basement should own a sump pump, and those who already have one should check to make sure it works.

“Because once that water starts coming in and the sump pump doesn’t work, you are going to have a swimming pool,” she said.

Other tips include cleaning your gutters to and ensuring any drainage pipes on your property or street are clear of debris. You can also use sand bags or another barrier to block water from doorways.

RELATED: Don’t wait, prepare now: How to prepare your home and car emergency kit for Ida

RELATED: A few showers this evening, then flooding likely from Ida through midweek

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