While forecasting methods and emergency procedures for tropical storm systems and hurricanes are constantly improving, there is substantial risk that still remains for those who continue to build structures along the coastline. With Hurricane Matthew causing immense destruction and loss of life across Haiti, the Bahamas and much of the eastern U.S. Coastline, reaching as far as North Carolina, it is of great importance to learn when and how to be prepared for this kind of disaster. Matthew claimed 44 lives in the US, according toABC News, and vast amounts of flooding was seen across 4 states, with over a thousand houses submerged in water in the days following the Hurricane’s end on October 9. Having a plan for the next hurricane or tropical storm can be the difference between life and death. Just watch the video below and it will take you through the story and you’ll see it for yourself.
There are a number of pre-season preparations that you will want to take into account long before any storm arises. It is imperative that you know all available evacuation routes in your area. The main roads and highways will likely suffer delays due to heavy traffic flow, so you will want to plan multiple alternative routes in order to ensure that you are not trapped in a flood while attempting to flee the storm. Prepare multiple first aid kits in your house and vehicle. You will want to keep at least a 3 day supply of water, amounting to 1 gallon per person per day and a 3 day supply of non-perishable food that does not require cooking. Seeds, such as flax seeds or hemp seeds, can provide worthwhile nutrition and are easy to store. Of course, you should pack at least a 3 day supply of any medication that may be required for those in your household. Also, make sure to have a NOAA-enabled radio to receive emergency broadcasts and multiple flashlights with extra batteries for each device. You will likely want to fit storm shutters to your house to mitigate damage as the storm passes.
When a warning is issued, it is important to keep in mind the nuances of the region in which you live. Low lying areas nearest the coast are particularly susceptible to flooding. For instance, New Orleans sits 8 feet below sea level and was almost completely flooded in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina struck. The nearly 1,500 lives claimed by Hurricane Katrina could have possibly been saved by immediate evacuation.
Make sure to secure outside objects and cover windows with plywood, if they are not already covered by storm shutters, in order to protect those inside from broken glass and other objects that may be thrust toward the house. Evacuation may not always be necessary, but make sure to listen for a call for evacuation on the radio or otherwise, and be prepared to take your supplies with you.
It is important to establish a secure room in your house to which you will retreat when there is no time for evacuation. A basement room or a room with few windows, nearest the center of your home, would be the best option for a secure space. This room would be the best place to keep your supplies should you be trapped for any extended period of time. If you have a need for light, flashlights should be used instead of candles, because a lit flame could possibly cause a fire if a gas leak is caused in the destruction left by the storm. While you wait for the storm to clear, monitor your radio for updates on the storm’s location. When the warnings stop and the storm appears to have gone, proceed with caution. Make sure that the storm has completely passed before leaving your house. Just watch the video below and it will take you through the story and you’ll see it for yourself.