The 2018 Atlantic hurricane season is underway with a major storm currently heading for the United States (US). As of 12:00 Eastern time on 10 September, Hurricane Florence was rated as a Category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds of 209 kilometers (130 miles) per hour, and it’s heading for the eastern coast of the US.
According to the National Hurricane Center, Florence is expected to be “an extremely dangerous major hurricane” through 13 September and is forecast to make landfall somewhere on the Southeast or Mid-Atlantic coast by the evening of 13 September or morning of 14 September. Evacuations are already underway in Dare County and Hatteras Island in North Carolina, and the governors of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia have all declared states of emergency. If Florence makes landfall as a Category 4 storm, it will be the strongest storm on record to make landfall in the US that far north.
Global Rescue security operations personnel and crisis response teams study and analyze disasters and disaster response every day. Their decades of experience give them unsurpassed expertise when it comes to preparing for disaster and managing the aftermath. Here are some of their recommendations for what to do when a hurricane is going to impact your area.
- If an evacuation order is announced, follow it. Many lives are lost in hurricanes simply because proper warnings are not heeded. If your local government makes an evacuation order, and you are able, you owe it to yourself and your loved ones to follow it. Possessions, even homes, are replaceable. You are not.
- If you have to evacuate, know how to get out safely.
- Have a plan – know your evacuation routes and your destination (shelter, pre-booked hotel, family or friends, etc.).
- Make sure your vehicle is in good working order, has a full gas tank, and a working spare tire and jack. Do not store extra fuel in containers you are taking with you.
- Pack a survival kit that includes food, water, flashlights with batteries, extra medications, and toiletries. Roadways will be congested and shelters may be full, so it is possible that you will need to spend the night in your car.
- Keep mobile devices charging during the trip and limit data usage, as mobile networks can become overwhelmed. Let friends or family know of your travel plans and communicate your progress. Short SMS messages will be the easiest to send and receive.
- If you are sheltering in place, be prepared.
- Have an emergency kit with flashlights and batteries, first aid kit, matches or lighters, candles, a battery-operated AM/FM radio, mosquito repellent, sunscreen, fire extinguisher, a week’s worth of non-perishable foods and personal drinking water, any personal supplies such as toiletries, medications and extra glasses/contacts, etc.
- Inform someone of your decision to stay and your location.
- Fill all vehicle and generator fuel tanks, but do not store fuel or run a generator inside of your living quarters.
- Fill sinks and bathtubs with water in order to flush toilets and wash clothing following the storm.
- Credit/debit card networks could fail during the storm, so keep enough cash (in small denominations) on hand to fill fuel tanks or buy food and water following the storm.
- Pack a small “go-bag” that is easily carried, such as a small backpack, in case you are forced to leave quickly. Carry a change of clothes, toiletries, extra medications, and important personal documents and identifications. Use zip-locking plastic bags to keep things dry.
- If you do have to move, wear thick-soled, closed-toed shoes and rugged/lightweight clothing. Only move during the storm if absolutely necessary.
- Continue to monitor local AM/FM band emergency systems throughout the storm.
- If your local airport closes before you evacuate, you’re not completely out of luck.
- Option one is to stay at the airport. If the airport will allow you to stay, this can be a very good option because there are usually emergency supplies, food and water, and a generator. Also, in extreme cases, the airport will be the central location for many relief and rescue efforts following the storm.
- The second option is to stay in a hotel. Finding a hotel away from the coast and on high ground is best, and there are specific laws in place in the US to protect travelers from price gouging in these situations.
- A third option is to procure a vehicle and move inland along designated evacuation routes. If there are no designated routes, stay on main roads as you move inland. If no hotels are available, local shelters may be set up for people moving inland and can be a good option.
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