How-To Tuesday: Preparing for Hurricanes

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Disaster Response and Recovery
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By: 
Greg Tucker

Hurricane Katrina taught us a difficult lesson about the damage, death, and destruction a massive storm can cause. If there’s one thing we should take from that experience it is that these weather systems are not something to underestimate; you have to be prepared for the worst – especially if you live in storm-prone areas.

A resident begins to pack up essential items while she prepares to evacuate from New Orleans with her family as Hurricane Gustav approaches on August 29, 2008. (Jacinta Quesada/FEMA)

Tropical storms can deliver a powerful punch not only to coastal areas, but also to inland locations where high winds and heavy rains can create damage for days after a storm's landfall. Accounts of flooding, tornadoes, and even riptides are all too common from these systems.

Hurricane season typically lasts from June 1 to November 30, but this year two tropical storms, Alberto and Beryl, formed a few weeks before June began and four storms formed before July for the first time since 1851. And that was all before we reached the busy part of hurricane season.

As part of National Preparedness Month, we're highlighting a few of the ideas from the National Hurricane Center's Tropical Cyclone Preparedness Guide and other sources to help you get ready for the storms ahead.

There's an App for That: FEMA has a smartphone app for iPhones, Android devices, and Blackberrys that can help you prepare for natural and manmade disasters. (One of our favorite features from the app is a checklist of items to include in an emergency supply kit.) The American Red Cross also has a great Hurricane App for the iPhone and Android that lets you track storms, prepare your family for bad weather, and locate shelters when needed.

The Great Escape: Learn the evacuation routes for your area in case a storm forces you to move inland. And if storms are imminent, be sure your vehicle has a full tank so you can make the trip in heavy traffic and avoid long lines at the gas station when supplies may be limited or unavailable.

On the Radio: A great investment for anyone living in hurricane prone areas is a radio – especially one that is hand- or battery-powered, or has a battery backup -- that can receive NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards broadcasts and is certified to Public Alert standards. These special radios can provide audio and visual alerts when emergencies warrant and can even wake you up in the middle of the night in dangerous situations.

You Need a Plan: If you live in any coastal region of the United States, you must have a plan for what to do before, during, and after a storm.

There is more information than we can cover in this space, so be sure to check the links below for additional resources.

 

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