Photo Credit: nha.nova.gov
The Good News
Hurricanes are the only type of natural disaster that you have plenty of time to prepare for. Although the spaghetti models are usually the target of memes, we usually have days to get our homes, businesses and schools ready when a storm is on the way.
The Bad News
Hurricanes cause billions of dollars of damage every year. According to NOAA, “2019 marked the ninth consecutive year with eight or more billion-dollar disasters, and was the fifth consecutive year in which 10 or more billion-dollar weather and climate disaster events affected the United States.” (https://coast.noaa.gov/states/fast-facts/hurricane-costs.html)
Three Ways to Prepare
So what should you do when a hurricane is expected to impact North Carolina? First, keep up with forecasts because models are known to change frequently.
Second, review your insurance policy! Know what constitutes flooding, which is not covered under homeowners insurance. Also, damage from wind-driven rain may mean a higher claim deductible for you. Therefore, a wet spot on the ceiling may not be something that warrants filing a claim. If you’re unsure about the language in your policy, call your agent for clarification.
Third, use this time of advance notice to make sure your house, yard, and place of business are ready for the incoming wind and rain that hurricanes bring inland. Creeks and rivers are at risk of flooding, and when the ground is saturated, wind can uproot trees. If your area is prone to flooding, you may need to use sandbags to minimize damage. Have a plan in place should you be required to evacuate. Hopefully, you’ve already had a tree company take down trees that were threatening your home. If not, stop putting that off! Remember, it’s always easier to get on a tree company’s schedule in the off season.
Do These Things Before Landfall:
- Clear your yard of debris which could become airborne and damage your home.
- Clean your gutters to allow proper drainage away from your home.
- Secure lawn furniture and put away umbrellas.
- Have emergency supplies on hand in case of power outages (batteries, flashlights, handheld radios, plenty of drinking water and food).
- Top off the gas tank in your car.
- Charge your cell phone and electronic devices.
- Consider purchasing a “power brick” to charge your phone without power.
Some of Central North Carolina’s worst storms have made their way to our area via the Cape Fear River. Pay close attention to the expected landfall location and compare it to the patterns of Hurricanes Fran, Florence and Matthew.
Prepare for the Worst:
- Mentally prepare for the potential to be without power for up to 7-10 days.
- Expect cell phone service outages. Download a walkie-talkie app like Zello and encourage your contacts to do the same.
- Follow news and road closures on Ready NC’s website: https://www.readync.org.
- Consider purchasing a generator to keep the basics running, but know the dangers of Carbon Monoxide poisoning: https://www.osha.gov/OshDoc/data_Hurricane_Facts/portable_generator_safety.pdf
- If you don’t have a generator, have coolers and ice ready to keep food fresh if you lose power. Buy some reusable ice blocks and store them in your freezer.
- Know what’s safe to eat, and what should be tossed by reviewing this comprehensive guide from FoodSafety.Gov: https://www.foodsafety.gov/food-safety-charts/food-safety-during-power-outage
- Make sure you have some cash on hand.
- Stay away from flood waters and remember, “Turn around, don’t drown.”
If you’ve read this article and still don’t feel ready, print this preparedness checklist produced by the Red Cross: https://www.redcross.org/content/dam/redcross/atg/PDF_s/Preparedness___Disaster_Recovery/Disaster_Preparedness/Hurricane/Hurricane.pdf