Editor’s Note: WYDaily first published this story on Monday, May 10, 2021. We are revisiting it due to the impending arrival in the Hampton Roads area of Tropical Storm Elsa. To read the original story, click here.
HAMPTON ROADS — It’s that time of year again: When locals watch the weather forecast in nervous anticipation of what a swirling storm hovering in the Atlantic could mean for Coastal Virginia. Before the news of the next hurricane comes, it is essential to prepare.
The Atlantic hurricane season tends to run from June 1 to November 30 each year, with a peak occurring between mid-August to late-October.
Below are some helpful tips to get you and your loved ones ready!
What do I need to know?
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) advises residents to know their local risk of hurricanes. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has a tool to take a look at historical hurricane tracks in your region. You can access this tool by clicking here.
Additionally, residents will need to know their evacuation zone and to plan evacuation routes. The Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) has a tool to find your zone. You can access it by clicking here.
If you choose to evacuate, it is important to plan where you will stay and how you will get there. Be sure to make arrangements for your pets. It is important to know that many emergency shelters may not be open this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and may not accept pets. Fortunately, there are many resources to find pet-friendly lodging, including BringFido.com and PetsWelcome.com. Contact your veterinarian, shelters and rescues for additional resources.
How will I know when a hurricane is coming?
FEMA has developed an app that will send real-time alerts via the National Weather Service. The app is set up so that you can receive notifications for up to five locations nationwide. The app can be downloaded by clicking here.
Additionally, it is important to seek out local resources for alerts.
For more resources from local governments around the Historic Triangle, click below:
- York County Virginia: Hurricane Season
- City of Williamsburg Hurricane Preparedness
- James City County Emergency Management
- City of Poquoson Hurricane Preparedness
RELATED STORY: Let’s Talk About Gas (and Hurricanes)
What do I need to do to get ready?
- Review your important documents and make sure to have them handy. This includes your insurance paperwork as well as any identifying paperwork. It is important to also make digital copies, but to keep them in a password-protected space.
- Verify your insurance. It is important to check your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance for coverage in the instance of a hurricane. Make a list of valuable items (including model, make and serial numbers) and take inventory of the items in your refrigerator and freezer (some insurance companies will allow you to make food loss claims in the event of power outage).
- Get your tech devices ready. It is important to fully charge cell phones, portable charging stations, computers, and other devices.
- Make sure to have your medications filled and any medical equipment ready to go prior to the storm. Additionally, make sure that these items are portable, accessible and ready to go in the instance of an evacuation.
- Have a “go” bag in the event that you don’t have a lot of time to evacuate. Items should include necessities (e.g. medications, important documents, food, toiletries, plenty of gas, portable chargers, etc.).
- Gather up supplies. This includes non-perishable food, flashlights, batteries, disinfectant supplies, pet food, bottled water, cash, paper products and any other necessary items. It is also recommended to fill the gas tank of your vehicle. FEMA has created a comprehensive list of supplies here.
- Create a continuity plan for your business. Make sure that your business has a continuity plan in the event that operations are interrupted. Also, verify any insurance you may have on your business and its coverage in the event of a hurricane.
- Strengthen your home. Bring in any outside furniture, remove trampolines, lawn ornaments and other loose items, clean out your gutters and drains, and consider installing hurricane shutters. Additionally, it is important to make a plan for lower level items in case of flooding.
- Make a plan for senior adults or those who may need additional support to prepare for a storm. It is also important to exchange contact information and storm plans with your neighbors.
- Make sure to also have a plan for loved ones with disabilities. If you have a loved one with a disability, make sure you have everything that they may need as well. Further guidance can be found by clicking here.
How will this year be different?
Like last year, the coronavirus pandemic has made hurricane preparedness that much more tricky and necessary.
- Verify if your local emergency shelter will be open and if there are any capacity restrictions. Ready.gov, a federal campaign designed to help navigate disasters, recommends that, if possible, residents should consider staying at home. The instruction also states that, “If you cannot shelter at home, make plans to shelter with friends and family, where you will be safer and more comfortable [than an emergency shelter].”
- If you do evacuate to a public shelter, make sure to bring items to help protect you and your loved ones from COVID-19, including: hand sanitizer, cleaning supplies, and at least two face coverings per person.
For more tips on hurricane preparedness, visit the website for Ready.gov by clicking here: Ready.gov: Hurricanes. Additional resources can be found through the Red Cross, National Department of Labor: Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the Virginia Department of Health (VDH).