Hurricane Preparedness

In an average year, 10 tropical storms form over the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico with six of these storms becoming hurricanes, and in an average three-year period, about five hurricanes hit the U.S. coast.

 

Below are some hurricane preparedness tips from the National Hurricane Center:

 

 

 
 

 [BEFORE THE HURRICANE]

 

Know the risks in your area 

  • Are you in a flood plain?
  • Is your home subject to storm surge flooding? 
  • How far above sea level are you?

The Risks

If you are near the seashore, plan to relocate during a storm. If you live in a mobile home, always plan to relocate. You can find out from local Emergency Management officials (NC and SC) if your home is located in a flood plane or if it is subject to storm (or tidal) flooding. They can also tell you the elevation of your home above sea level.

Learn Your Evacuation Routes

  • Plan your personal escape route 
  • Check hours it would take to evacuate during peak traffic
Plan your escape route in advance including the time it will take you to evacuate to a safe place. Keep in mind you may be evacuating during peak traffic. Evacuation routes are well marked with blue hurricane evacuation route signs.

Know The Locations of Shelters
  • Where is the nearest official shelter? 
  • Are there family or friends living inland you can stay with?
  • Who should be contacted in case of evacuation? 

Determine escape routes from your home and places to meet. Know the location of your nearest official shelter. Make a plan with what to do with your pets. Do not take pets, alcoholic beverages or weapons to any kind of official shelters, as they are prohibited. Choose several places for evacuation, including family and friends inland and possible motels. Keep handy a list of phone numbers of these places and anyone you need to contact if you do need to evacuate. Also, have an out of state friend as a family contact. 

Have a Hurricane Kit Stocked and Ready

  • First Aid Kit
    • Band-Aids
    • Aspirin/Tylenol 
    • Spare eyeglasses
    • Essential Medications
    • Antibacterial Ointment 
  • Paper Products 
    • Toilet paper
    • Paper towels 
    • Antibacterial wipes
    • Tissues
  • Canned food and manual can opener 
    • Dried fruits
    • Canned meats
    • Juices 
  • At least 3 gallons of water per person 
  • Protective clothing, rainwear and sleeping bags 
  • Battery-powered radio and flashlight 
    • Extra batteries
  • Special items for infants, elderly, or disabled family members
    • Canned milk or formula
    • Disposable diapers/wipes
  • Written instructions on how to turn off electricity, gas and water if authorities advise 
  • Important papers and money
    • Drivers license or other picture ID
    • Insurance policies
    • Property inventory 
    • Medic alert or device with special medical information 
    • Maps of evacuation and to destination 
  • Cellular phone 
  • Prescription Medicine
Obtain and store materials to secure your house
  • Plywood to cover windows
Obtain and store materials necessary to secure your home during high winds. Shutters or plywood are recommended for windows. Install anchors in advance for the plywood for quick and easy assembly. Tape does not prevent windows from breaking, so taping windows is not recommended.

Do Maintenance around your house
  • Clean rain gutters 
  • Trim trees and shrubs
Clear rain gutters and make repairs to any loose shingles or roofing. Trim trees and shrubbery. Remove dead, diseased or damaged trees and limbs. Keep clutter and debris from property.

Review your Insurance Policies
  • Inventory your belongings
  • Do you have all types of insurance needed?
Do a complete inventory of your belongings, including descriptions and pictures. Store these with other important papers in a waterproof container or in your safety deposit box. This will help in obtaining insurance settlements and/or tax deductions for losses. Review your insurance policies. Separate policies may be needed for protection against wind and flood damage.



 

 [DURING THE HURRICANE]

 
What about hurricanes?
  • Tropical Depression 
  • Tropical Storm
  • Hurricane
A hurricane is a type of tropical cyclone. Tropical cyclones are classified as follows:
  • Tropical Depression - An organized system of clouds with a defined circulation and maximum winds of 38 mph or less. 
  • Tropical Storm - An organized system of clouds with a defined circulation and maximum winds of 39 to 73 mph.
  • Hurricane - An intense tropical weather system with a well-defined circulation and winds of 74 mph or higher.
Hurricanes are categorized by intensity:
         I. Winds of 74-95 mph and storm surge of 4-5 ft
         II. Winds of 96-110 mph and storm surge of 6-8 ft
         III. Winds of 111-130 mph abd storm surge of 9-12 ft
         IV. Winds of 131-155 mph & storm surge of 13-18 ft
         V. Winds of 156 mph or higher and storm surge of 19 ft or higher

The coordinates of a hurricane given to the public are the location of the eye. The average storm is 250 miles in diameter.

Hurricane Alerts:

Hurricane Watch - Hurricane conditions are a real possibility in your area.
  • Frequently listen to the radio and TV for updates
  • Fuel and service your family vehicle

  • Inspect property and secure loose items.
  • Check batteries and stock up on canned food, safety supplies, drinking water and medications.
  • Have on hand an extra supply of cash. 
Hurricane Warning - A hurricane is expected within 24 hours in your area.
  • Closely monitor radio and TV for official bulletins. 
  • Complete preparation activities such as putting up storm shutters. 
  • Follow instructions of local officials. Leave immediately if told to do so! 
  • Leave early and in daylight if possible. Make arrangements for pets as they aren't allowed in shelters.
  • Notify a friend or family member out of the affected area that you are evacuating.

Evacuation
  • Know where you are going in advance.
  • Leave early and in daylight if possible. 
  • Don't travel further then necessary. Traffic will be bad, and roads jammed. 
  • Remain Calm. 
Evacuation routes are well marked with Blue hurricane evacuation route signs. Keep in mind that many services will be shut down as the storm approaches. Ferry services, gas stations, phone service, etc. will all be closed once winds reach 40 mph or higher.

Never attempt to drive through water on a road. Water can be deeper than it appears, and water levels rise quickly. Most cars will float at first and can be buoyed by floodwaters and swept downstream before finally sinking. Floodwaters can also erode roadways and carry away bridges without being visible from above the running water. If a car stalls in flood water, get out quickly and move to higher ground. The flood waters may still be rising and the car could be swept away at any moment.

At shelters, make sure to register every person arriving with you. Do not take pets, alcoholic beverages or weapons of any kind. Be prepared to offer assistance to shelter workers if necessary and remind everyone to do their part to keep the shelter clean and sanitary.

Evacuation Routes
If you can evacuate, EVACUATE!

If you have to stay in your home, stay indoors. Find an inside room away from doors and windows. Don't go out during the brief calm during the passage of the eye. Winds have been known to increase in seconds to 75 mph or more right after the passage of the eye. Be prepared for possible flooding. Move to higher areas in your house and wait for help to arrive. Only move to the outside of your home if you have no choice. Remain calm.

A mandatory evacuation is issued when projected storm conditions are expected to cause the interruption of public safety response, loss of utilities, closure of roads and threaten the safety of the population in the path of the storm.
  • Property owners have until winds reach 40 mph to secure their property and accomplish preparations. 
  • Law enforcement officials can remove persons from high Risk areas, such as oceanfront, trailer parks, and low-lying areas. 
  • Anyone that does not heed the evacuation order may be without public safety services such as fire and police. They may also be without utilities such as phone, water and power. These services could be down for extended periods leaving them isolated for long periods of time. 
  • You can not be arrested for not leaving during an evacuation, but law enforcement will make every attempt to remove you for your own safety.


 

 [AFTER THE HURRICANE]

 
When can I go back home?
  • State agencies
  • Identification 
Delay return to your home until recommended or authorized by local authorities. You can find out from local Emergency Management officials (NC and SC) when you can return home. Re-entry after a storm may be restricted depending on damage to property, roads and bridges. To verify road conditions after a hurricane call: Be sure to carry your identification showing you're a county resident. Accepted identification includes your driver's license, re-entry sticker or permit or your current property tax receipt.

Flooding
  • Flash floods
  • Storm surge
Due to flash flooding that can occur after a hurricane has passed, avoid driving on coastal and low-lying roads. The surge of ocean water plus flash flooding of streams and rivers due to rains, combine to make the greatest cause of hurricane deaths. Breakers coming ashore hit with an impact of 10,000 pounds per square foot.

What to expect after the storm?
  • Outdoor hazards 
  • Limited resources
You can expect polluted water, limited communications, no electricity or gas, sewers backed up and overflowing, structures undermined and severe erosion to shorelines.

Outdoor Hazards - Be aware of outdoor hazards, such as loose or dangling power lines. These lines will be live and can cause electrocution. Report downed lines as soon as possible. Streets will be filled with debris and washouts may weaken roads and bridges. Use extreme caution. Snakes and insects will be prevalent.

Water and Food - Do not use water. Use your emergency supply or boil water before drinking until official word is given that the water is again safe. Guard against spoiled food. Freezers will keep food good for several days if the doors are not opened.

Fire - Fire is an extra threat after a storm due to low water pressure. Water mains may be damaged. Take extra care with fire, as fire fighting services along with other public safety services such as police, may be severely hampered.

Property Damage
  • Damage Assessment
  • Repairs 
  • Insurance
After the storm, damage assessment teams will do extensive reviews of all areas. The state Emergency Management Divisions will publish a telephone number for all those interested in providing goods and services after the storm has passed.

Make temporary repairs to protect your property from further damage or looting. Use only reputable contractors. In the days following a storm, unscrupulous contractors will prey on unsuspecting homeowners. Check the Better Business Bureau or your local state agencies before hiring someone unknown. Keep all receipts for materials used in repairs.

Insurance representatives will be on the scene immediately following a major storm to expedite the handling of claims. Notify your insurance agent of any losses and leave word where you can be reached. Hardship cases will be settled first by insurance representatives, so be patient.
 

 [HURRICANE RELIEF]

 

American Red Cross​

The Disaster Relief Fund, enables the Red Cross to provide shelter, food, counseling and other assistance to those in need across the country.

1-800-HELP-NOW
(1-800-435-7669)

 

Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina

Donate food -- especially canned food, other non-perishables and bottled water.

Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina
500-B Spratt St.
Charlotte, NC 28206
(704) 376-1785

 

Salvation Army

If you'd like to help their efforts, make contributions payable to The Salvation Army and mark them as disaster relief.


To make a donation, send checks to:

Salvation Army
PO Box 241808
Charlotte, NC 28224-1808.
Call 1-800-SAL-ARMY