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State Leaders Declare Weather Emergency And Warn It's Not Over Yet

HARRISBURG (KDKA) - In anticipation of the impact of Ida on Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Wolf signed an emergency weather declaration Tuesday night.

Whenever you get more rain in 24 hours than you normally get in a month or two, it's sure to affect thousands. As Ida moves across the state from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia, the governor said he decided to take preemptive action.

"Yesterday I signed a disaster emergency proclamation to help free up resources to help the Commonwealth prepare for the storm," said Wolf. "That allowed us to pre-position emergency crews and supplies in strategic places all across the Commonwealth. It also allowed me to activate the National Guard."

Approximately 120 National Guard members were activated to support local emergency and rescue operations.

Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) Director Randy Padfield said both helicopter and water rescue teams were also moved into place.

"We've also moved a number of swift water rescue teams from the northwest corner of the state, which is not going to be impacted, to more central locations so that they can rapidly respond and be able to assist counties," said Padfield on Wednesday. "We've also alerted a number of other swift water rescue teams in the southwest for potential deployment to other parts of the state if needed."

State leaders also warned that some of the flooding will occur after the rains have stopped, particularly near rivers and streams.

PennDOT officials are warning motorists to be especially vigilant.

WATCH: KDKA's Jon Delano Reports

The warnings on Wednesday morning were clear: stay off the roads unless absolutely necessary.

Now that the rains are ending, however, PennDOT says to watch out for rising creeks and rivers, standing water on roadways and even landslides.

"Because there's been a great deal of rain over the last few weeks and the ground's already saturated, which means there's a potential for landslides in those proned areas, and quicker than normal rise in those small streams leading to the flash flooding," said Melissa Batula, the executive deputy PennDOT secretary.

Batula said if you see standing water or road barriers, play it smart. Turn around, don't drown.

When you can't see the bottom of the water, drivers have no idea if there's a sinkhole or depression which can swallow up your vehicle.

"Even shallow, swiftly flowing water can wash a car from the roadway, and even the road surface itself may not be intact underneath the water. So never drive around the barricades or signs on closed roads," advises Batula.

In fact, ignoring those signs or getting stuck in water on roadways may subject you to fines up to $500.

While many roads in the region were closed and some have reopened, nobody is giving the all clear quite yet.

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