Hurricane Florence approaching the US Coast
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Hurricane Preparedness: Before, During, and After

Hurricane Florence is heading towards the East Coast, currently as a Category 4 storm, but may make landfall at Category 3. Evacuations have been ordered in South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, as the Mid-Atlantic hurries to prepare for the storm's devastating impact. Of course, the US is no stranger to these deadly storms—last year, Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria left thousands of people dead in their wake, and many more were faced with injuries, damaged and flooded homes and vehicles, and a lack of cell service and electricity.

In the days surrounding one of these storms, there are important steps that people in affected areas need to take to help protect themselves and their families—that includes before, during, and after the storm. Read on for safety instructions at each step of the storm’s timeline. More information can be found here.

Before

During

  • After you know the storm is coming, but before the storm hits, secure your home. Cover all of the windows with storm shutters.
  • Check the websites of your local National Weather Service office to get the latest information on the storm and learn how you should respond.
  • Follow the instructions of emergency officials, and leave if ordered to.
  • If you are not ordered to evacuate, take steps to shelter in place. Here is guidance from the National Weather Service on how to shelter in place from a hurricane, and here is more detailed instruction from Ready.gov (at the bottom of the page). Don’t forget—if the eyewall of the hurricane passes over you, the following period of calm is not safe to emerge. The other eyewall is coming.

After

Just because the storm has passed doesn’t mean that the danger is over. Read on for safety instructions for returning to a damaged or flooded home and neighborhood.

  • Only return home when the proper authorities have given the all-clear.
  • When walking or driving around your neighborhood, be on the lookout for places where the roads or walkways may have been eroded by floodwaters, or blocked by debris.
  • Do not walk or stand in standing water, as it may be electrically charged from nearby downed power lines. If you see any of these downed power lines, contact the power company's emergency number.
  • If possible, turn off electricity at the main breaker or the fuse box before entering your home. Contact your local power company or a qualified electrician to help if you are unfamiliar with this process. 
  • Photograph all damage to your property for insurance purposes before you begin your repairs. If it’s possible to take precautions to prevent further damage (i.e. placing a tarp over a damaged roof) try to do that as soon as possible, as your insurance may not cover damages that occur after the storm.
  • If you are using a generator or other gasoline-powered machine at your home, DO NOT allow it to run inside of the building, including your garage. This equipment can generate carbon monoxide, which is deadly. Use this equipment outside, and far away from any windows. 

For a more complete list of how to protect yourself, your home, and your family after a flood, please refer to pages 10-11 of this resource from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Unfortunately, there are those who take the opportunity immediately after a storm to try and prey on the confusion and vulnerability of affected communities. To learn more about scams to be on the lookout for immediately after a storm, please refer to FEMA’s Rumor Control website.

Sources:

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