While forecasting tools have come a long way and we have much better methods for predicting hurricane paths, which keep improving year after year, people are still at great risk from the ferocity of tropical storms and hurricanes. One major risk is due to the fact that people continue to build along the coastline in areas that are very vulnerable to flooding and that are in prime target zones for these tropical storm systems. We want to provide all of our readers with helpful information that will help keep them and their families safe and help them to best prepare for these storms.
- Start off the season prepared and start prep work sooner rather than later.
- Know available evacuation routes that are available if you are near the coast.
- Make sure your home meets building codes for withstanding hurricanes.
- Know where the flood prone areas are so you can prepare for water intrusion.
- Have proper tools, supplies, food, and a first aid kit ready well in advance.
- Stock up on batteries ahead of time and be sure to get flashlights and radios.
- Always make sure you have more than enough non-perishable foods on hand.
- Stay on top of yard maintenance so you aren’t rushing around last minute.
- Be aware of special needs or health concerns you should plan for.
- Know where shelters in your area are in case you need to go to one.
When Watches and Warning Are Issued
- Leave low lying areas when advised to do so due to the flash flood risk.
- Protect windows of your home with plywood boards, or storm shutters.
- Secure outside objects, bring them in and make sure they can’t fly around.
- Monitor the storms as closely as possible so you know where its heading.
- Keep electronics as changed as possible in case you have to quickly leave.
- Check on friends and family in the path so you know what their plans are.
- Let friend and family outside the evacuation area know where you will go.
- Top off gas tank(s) and keep them as full as you can and get extra fuel cans if you can.
- Have several days’ supply of food and water for each family member.
- If you are ordered to evacuate by officials in your area, do so immediately.
Before the Storm Hits
- Be ready to put your plan and preparation into action by discussing it with family.
- Stay tuned to local weather reports on radio, television, or the internet.
- Finish all boarding up, have storm shutters in place, and everything secured.
- Double-check food and water supplies and get any last minute things you need.
- Gather all important papers, records, and documents and keep them with you.
- Make sure all your tools, supplies, and first aid kit are easily accessible.
- Have a secure room available for you to take shelter in if needed.
- Make sure you have a safe place indoors for you pets and never leave them alone.
- If you do need to evacuate let someone know when and where you are going.
- Place a hold on mail so you do not lose any important things during the storm.
During the Storm
- Stay in your secure room or in the shelter and do not venture outside.
- Stay away from windows and doors even if the storm doesn’t sound that bad.
- Avoid using your phone, flashlight, or candles until you absolutely need to.
- Monitor Weather and Civil Service Bulletins on either regular or NOAA radio.
- Have supplies on hand and in your secure room or with you at the shelter.
- Remain indoors when the eye moves over your area and don’t venture outside.
- Wait until there is official word that the storm and winds have passed.
- Listen for sounds of falling debris but stay inside unless forced to leave.
- Keep all family members together at all times to avoid getting separated.
- Follow all directions from shelter managers or local officials.
After the Storm
- Make sure that all is definitely clear outside, and the storm has completely passed.
- Report down power lines to officials and avoid them and find another way around.
- Use stored water and food, do not drink water from tap due to contamination.
- Stay in the shelter if you evacuated for as long as you can before heading home.
- Be patient and remember it can take a while before they get back to normal.
- Follow all instructions for emergency responders and law enforcement.
- Contact your insurance company to report any damaged to your home or vehicle.
- Be sure to keep pets and family members safe while surveying any damage.
- Seek shelter elsewhere if your home is too damaged to safely stay in.
- Contact local services for any assistance you may need after a hurricane.
Hurricanes and tropical storms can be devastating, but by taking time before hand to prepare you can give yourselves the best chances to get through with a little damage as possible.
According to an article written by CNN earlier this year in 2019, the following are some of the most note worthy storms and hurricanes that have ever hit the United States:
- August 30-September 12, 2017 – Hurricane Irma
Category 5 storm. Made seven landfalls, including four as a Category 5 hurricane across islands in the northern Caribbean. Hit the Florida Keys as a Category 4 and then hit in southwestern Florida as a Category 3 storm. Caused an estimated $50 billion in damage.
- August 30-September 12, 2017 – Hurricane Irma
Category 5 storm. Made seven landfalls, including four as a Category 5 hurricane across islands in the northern Caribbean. Hit the Florida Keys as a Category 4 storm again in southwestern Florida as a Category 3 storm. Caused an estimated $50 billion in damage.
- September 1-14, 2008 – Hurricane Ike
Category 4 storm. Made landfall over the Turks and Caicos Islands as a Category 4. Hit Galveston Island, Texas as a Category 2. Path included Turks and Caicos Islands, Cuba, Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas. Caused an estimated $30 billion in damage.
- August 25-29, 2005 – Hurricane Katrina
Category 5 storm. Made landfall within the state of Florida as a Category 1. Late on it hit Buras, Louisiana as a Category 3. Path included Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Caused an estimated $125 billion in damage.
- September 2-24, 2004 – Hurricane Ivan
Category 5 storm. Hit Grenada as a Category 3. Affected areas included the Gulf Coast of the United States, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Venezuela and Caribbean islands. Caused an estimated $20.5 billion in damage.
- August 9-14, 2004 – Hurricane Charley
Category 4 storm. Made landfall in Cuba as a Category 3. Late on it made landfall in Florida as a Category 4. Path included Grand Cayman Islands, Cuba, Florida and South Carolina. Caused an estimated $15.1 billion in damage.
Direct Hits by Hurricanes to US Mainland 1851-2017:
CATEGORY 5: 3
CATEGORY 4: 24
CATEGORY 3: 64
CATEGORY 2: 80
CATEGORY 1: 121
The 10 Costliest Hurricanes and Tropical Storms in the United States – 1900-2017:
NOT ADJUSTED FOR INFLATION
Name – Year – Category or Type – Damage
1. Katrina – 2005 – 3 – $125 billion (tied)
1. Harvey – 2017 – 4 – $125 billion (tied)
3. Maria – 2017 – 5 – $90 billion
4. Sandy – 2012 – Post-Tropical – $65 billion
5. Irma – 2017 – 5 – $50 billion
6. Ike – 2008 – 2 – $30 billion
7. Andrew – 1992 – 5 – $27 billion
8. Ivan – 2004 – 3 – $20.5 billion
9. Wilma – 2005 – 3 – $19 billion
10. Rita – 2005 – 3 – $18.5 billion
Looking at statistics like these and seeing the areas that can be affected the devastating damage that can be caused by hurricane sad even bad tropical storms, it is easy to see why these forces of nature have to be taken seriously. Those who have lived in hurricane-prone areas like Florida for any length of time are likely well accustomed to what to do when a hurricane is approaching. However, those who have just moved into the area or who have moved to the coastal areas for the first time may need to change how they plan and prepare for these massive storms.