JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It's officially Hurricane Preparedness Week (May 7-13, 2017). It's the perfect time to prepare for a potential land-falling tropical storm or hurricane. It only takes one storm to change your life and community. Tropical cyclones are among nature’s most powerful and destructive phenomena. If you live in an area prone to tropical cyclones, you need to be prepared. Even areas well away from the coastline can be threatened by dangerous flooding, destructive winds and tornadoes from these storms.
The week tackles one concept or project to make sure you and your family are ready for the upcoming hurricane season each day.
Sunday, May 7th kicked the week off with the theme, Determine Your Risk. Find out today what types of wind and water hazards could happen where you live, and then start preparing now for how to handle them. Hurricanes are not just a coastal problem. Their impacts can be felt hundreds of miles inland. Remember the tornadoes from Hurricane Charley in our area? Charley came onshore down near Port Charlotte on the Gulf side of the state and some were without power for a week in Jacksonville. It’s easy to forget what a hurricane is capable of doing. The U.S. has not been directly impacted by a major hurricane (Category 3 or higher) in more than a decade. However, hurricanes such as Ike, Sandy and Isaac reminded us that significant impacts can occur without it being a major hurricane. Many people are suffering from hurricane amnesia in the forms of complacency, denial and inexperience. This remarkable hurricane streak is going to end, and we have to be ready for it to happen this season. Once you determine your risk, its much easier to plan for the potential for a storm.
Monday, May 8th focuses on developing an evacuation plan. The first thing you need to do is find out if you live in a storm surge hurricane evacuation zone or if you’re in a home that would be unsafe during a hurricane. You can see a map of the evacuation zones here. If you are, figure out where you’d go and how you’d get there if told to evacuate. You do not need to travel hundreds of miles. Identify someone, perhaps a friend or relative who doesn’t live in a zone or unsafe home, and work it out with them to use their home as your evacuation destination. Be sure to account for your pets, as most local shelters do not permit them. Put the plan in writing for you and those you care about.
On Tuesday, May 9th, its time to check your disaster kit- you KNOW you robbed the extra batteries for the remote control a few months ago... You’re going to need supplies not just to get through the storm but for the potentially lengthy and unpleasant aftermath. Have enough non-perishable food, water and medicine to last each person in your family a minimum of one week. Electricity and water could be out for at least that long. You’ll need extra cash, a battery-powered radio and flashlights. Many of us have cell phones, and they all run on batteries. You’re going to need a portable, crank or solar powered USB charger.
Wednesday May 10th is all about insurance- one of the biggest takeaway lessons we learned after Hurricane Matthew was that we do not understand the complicated insurance policies on our homes, what flood insurance does cover and what doesn't it cover. Call your insurance company or agent and ask for an insurance check-up to make sure you have enough homeowners insurance to repair or even replace your home. Don’t forget coverage for your car or boat. Remember, standard homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flooding. Whether you’re a homeowner or renter, you’ll need a separate policy for it, and it’s available through your company, agent or the National Flood Insurance Program at www.floodsmart.gov. Act now as flood insurance requires a 30-day waiting period.
Thursday May 11th helps you prepare your home for a storm. There are measures you can take that may end up saving you thousands of dollars in repars. If you plan to ride out the storm in your home, make sure it is in good repair and up to local hurricane building code specifications. Many of these retrofits do not cost much or take as long to do as you may think. Have the proper plywood, steel or aluminum panels to board up the windows and doors. Remember, the garage door is the most vulnerable part of the home, so it must be able to withstand the winds. Click here for a great guide from FLASH on projects you can do around your home to make it more hurricane ready.
Friday May 12th is about coming together as a community and checking with your neighbors. Many Americans rely on their neighbors after a disaster, but there are also many ways you can help your neighbors before a hurricane approaches. Learn about all the different actions you and your neighbors can take to prepare and recover from the hazards associated with hurricanes. Start the conversation now with these Neighbor Helping Neighbor strategies. We saw how this community came together after Hurricane Matthew- imagine how much we could get done if we prepare together, not just recover together.
We wrap up Hurricane Preparedness week by putting it all down on paper. Its time to manually write out your hurricane plan. The time to prepare for a hurricane is before the season begins, when you have the time and are not under pressure. If you wait until a hurricane is on your doorstep, the odds are that you will be under duress and will make the wrong decisions. Take the time now to write down your hurricane plan. Know where you will ride out the storm and get your supplies now. You don’t want to be standing in long lines when a hurricane warning is issued. Those supplies that you need will probably be sold out by the time you reach the front of the line. Being prepared, before a hurricane threatens, makes you resilient to the hurricane impacts of wind and water. It will mean the difference between your being a hurricane victim and a hurricane survivor.