Hurricane Preparedness

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Hurricane Information

A hurricane is a type of tropical cyclone-the general term for all circulating weather systems (counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere) over tropical waters. Tropical cyclones are classified as:

Tropical Depression - An organized system of clouds and thunderstorms with a defined circulation and maximum sustained winds of 38 mph (33 knots) or less.

Tropical Storm - An organized system of strong thunderstorms with a defined circulation and maximum sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph (34-63 knots).

Hurricane - An intense tropical weather system with a well defined circulation and maximum sustained winds of 74 mph (64 knots) or higher. In the Western Pacific, hurricanes are called "typhoons", and similar storms in the Indian Ocean are called "cyclones".

Hurricanes can be dangerous killers. The damaging effects of a hurricane are not confined only to the area around the center (eye wall). Spiral bands of showers and thunderstorms rotate counter-clockwise around the center of the hurricane (the eye). These bands may extend outward for hundreds of miles, bringing tropical storm force winds and heavy rains to an area several hours before the center comes ashore. Learning the hurricane warning messages and planning ahead can reduce chances of injury or major property damage.

There are many low-cost mitigation measures you can take to protect yourself, your home, and your property from losses.  (Before you begin your work, make sure you will do it right and contact your local building official!) 

BEFORE THE STORM
· Know the hurricane risks for your area. Find out if your home is subject to storm surge flooding.
· Inspect your property for potential problems that may arise during a hurricane. Trim back dead branches from trees, and take note of any objects that may become airborne during high winds.
· Consider installing permanent protection for your windows. Hurricane shutters offer excellent protection, but marine plywood panels of ½ inch thickness may be a more feasible form of window protection during a weather emergency.
· Investigate flood insurance. Your insurance agent can inform you about the National Flood Insurance Program.
· Inventory your property by making a list, taking photographs, or making a video. Store records in a secure, dry place like your safety deposit box.
· Create a Family Disaster Plan and make sure family members know what to do. Assemble a Disaster Supply Kit. Plan your evacuation route.
· Learn Locations of Emergency Shelters.
· Make arrangements for Pets.  Emergency Shelters do not take pets.
· Make the commitment now to evacuate when told to do so by local officials.

Listen to a local radio or television station for official announcements issued from your Emergency Management Office.

Know the difference between a "hurricane watch" and a "hurricane warning."

Hurricane Watch: A hurricane watch is issued when there is a threat of hurricane conditions within 24-36 hours. When a hurricane watch is issued, stay tuned to television or radio for official bulletins of the hurricane's progress. If evacuation has not already been recommended or ordered, consider leaving early to avoid traffic. Remember that weather conditions will deteriorate quickly as the hurricane approaches.

Hurricane Warning: A hurricane warning is issued when hurricane conditions (winds of 74 miles per hour or greater, or dangerously high water and rough seas) are expected in 24 hours or less.

When a Hurricane Watch is Issued for Your Area . . .

· Listen to local officials
· Check often for official bulletins on radio, TV, or your weather radio.
· Fuel Car
· Check mobile Home tie-downs
· Moor small craft or move to safe shelter
· Stock up on canned food
· Check supplies of special medicines and drugs
· Check radio, flashlight batteries, manual can opener
· Secure lawn furniture and other loose material outdoors
· Tape, board, or shutter windows to prevent shattering
· Wedge sliding glass doors to prevent lifting from their tracks
· Turn refrigerator and freezer to coldest settings. Open only when absolutely necessary and close quickly
· Review evacuation plan

When a Hurricane Warning is issued for your area . . .

· Listen to local officials
· Stay tuned to radio, TV, or NOAA Weather Radio for official bulletins
· Board up garage and porch doors
· Move valuables to upper floors
· Bring in pets
· Fill clean containers with several days supply of drinking water
· Turn up refrigerator to maximum cold and don't open unless necessary
· Use phone only for emergencies
· Stay indoors on the downwind side of house away from windows
· Beware of the eye of the hurricane
· Leave mobile homes
· Leave areas which might be affected by storm tide or stream flooding
· Leave early - in daylight if possible
· Shut off water and electricity at main stations
· Take small valuables and papers but travel light
· Leave food and water for pets (shelters will not take them)
· Lock up house
· Drive carefully to nearest designated shelter using recommended evacuation routes
· Avoid elevators

If officials indicate evacuation is necessary . . .

· Leave as soon as possible.
· Avoid flooded roads and watch for washed out bridges.
· Secure you home by unplugging appliances and turning off electricity and the main water valve.
· Tell someone outside of the storm area where you are going.
· If time permits, elevate furniture to protect it from flooding.
· Bring pre-assembled emergency supplies and warm protective clothing.
· Take blankets and sleeping bags to the shelter.
· Lock up house and leave.

DURING THE STORM
If at home

· Stay inside, away from windows, skylights and glass doors.
· Store drinking water in clean bathtubs, jugs, bottles and cooking utensils.
· Keep a supply of flashlights and extra batteries handy. Avoid open flames, such as candles and kerosene lamps, as a source of light.
· If power is lost, turn off major appliances to reduce power "surge" when electricity is restored.
· Fill bath tubs with water that will not be used for drinking.
Stay tuned to local radio for information

AFTER THE STORM
Return home only after an "all clear" is issued by authorities.

· Avoid loose or dangling power lines and report them immediately to the power company, police or fire department.
· Enter the home with caution.
· Beware of snakes, insects or animals driven to higher ground by flood water.
· Open windows and doors to ventilate and dry home.
· Check refrigerated foods for spoilage.
· Do not drink the water. Eat only foods you are absolutely sure are safe.
· Do not use candles for lighting.
· Be extremely careful when using generators. Read owners manual and adhere to all safety precautions.
· Be extremely careful when using chainsaws. Read owners manual and adhere to all safety precautions.
· Use 911 for emergencies only. Remember that fire, rescue and police crews will be overwhelmed with the recovery effort.
· Do not burn any debris until permission is granted to do so by proper authorities.
· Call your Insurance Company to file a claim if your home was damaged.
· Ask your Insurance Company for financial help.
· Listen to local radio stations for official disaster.
· Remember: INTERSECTIONS WITH MALFUNCTIONING STOPLIGHTS MUST BE TREATED AS A FOUR-WAY STOP.

· Drive only if absolutely necessary and avoid flooded roads and washed out bridges.

IN THE AFTERMATH
Following a major hurricane, it may take several weeks to restore services and clear roads and several months to remove all the debris from neighborhoods. Be patient and cooperate with instructions and requests from authorities. Remember to stay clear of utility crews. They must have a safe area to make repairs. Thank you!

Hurricane Weather Map