As many people continue to stock their homes with necessities during the coronavirus pandemic, some are also starting to prepare for hurricane season.
This week is National Hurricane Preparedness week, during which localities and national organizations warn residents to prepare for the natural disasters that could occur during hurricane season.
Hurricane season begins in June and runs until November.
According to the National Weather Service, each day this week has a theme directed to help prepare people.
Sunday encouraged residents to determine their local risk. This means looking at how hurricanes can impact certain areas depending on where an individual lives and it’s important to understand the hurricane history of the locality in which they reside.
Hurricane history can be tracked for particular areas on the NWS website.
Monday encouraged residents to develop an evacuation plan.
The Virginia Department of Emergency Management has divided the roughly 1.25 million Virginians who live on the coast into several evacuation zones, A through D. While parts of the Southside, such as Norfolk, are included in evacuation zones, most of James City County, York County and Williamsburg are not.
However, there are some neighborhoods in those localities that are included in evacuation zones so it’s important for resiidents to check the VDEM evacuation map based on their specific residence.
Tuesday asks residents to assemble disaster supplies. This means making a list of items to replenish a hurricane supply kit and begin to assemble those supplies early. A kit should include items such as food and water, medicine, batteries and radio chargers, gas and cash. Food non-perishable items and enough in quantity to last three days. Other items include:
- First aid kit
- Whistle to signal for help
- Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- Manual can opener for food
- Local maps
- Cellphone with chargers and a backup battery
On Wednesday, the Weather Service asks residents to look into their flood insurance. Flood insurance has to be purchased separately, according to NWS, so residents should look into buying the insurance well before hurricane season hits because it can take about a month to kick in.
During an interview in 2019, Sara Ruch, deputy emergency manager for James City County, suggested residents also take this time to look at their insurance information to make sure people fully understand it. She said it’s a good idea to video or document the home before a hurricane hits so that way there’s a record if something happens.
Thursday encourages residents to take steps to strengthen the structure of their home. This means covering windows, trimming trees, securing loose outdoor items and moving any vehicles to a safe location. It’s also a good idea to be prepared with plywood, steel or aluminum panels to board up the windows and doors. This is especially important for garage doors, which are the most vulnerable part of the home.
The Weather Service asks residents Friday to look at ways they can help their neighbors, especially senior citizens. Those in the community who rely on the assistance of others will need help collecting supplies before the storm hits. In addition, they might need help if there’s an evacuation so it might be a good idea to adjust evacuation plans to incorporate those nearby who might need assistance.
It’s also important to check-in after a storm passes to make sure neighbors have all the supplies they need and can recover from the hazards associated with hurricanes.
To finish up the week Friday, the Weather Service suggests residents complete a written plan. This means including photo documentation of property, keeping important documents safe for quick access and sharing the plan with others in your home and community. Having a written plan helps people avoid mistakes when faced with an emergency.
FEMA has an online tool available for people to make a written plan that covers all aspects of hurricane preparedness.
For more information on National Hurricane Preparedness Week, visit the National Weather Service online.
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