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Summer Series: Preparing for a Hurricane

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By Cara Beth Lewis

Here in Bladen County, we have had our fair share of hurricanes – some worse than others. As we are in the midst of hurricane season (June 1st through November 30th), preparing and educating ourselves will ensure that we are ready if a natural disaster strikes.

American Red Cross warns, “Hurricanes are massive storm systems that form over ocean water and often move toward land. Hurricanes bring high winds, heavy rain, storm surge (rise in water level), flooding and tornadoes. These storms are dangerous and can cause damage to places far inland. Prepare now so you can stay safe.”

Although hurricane season began in June, September through November are the most active hurricane months, according to WRAL.com. Hurricanes bring intense winds and rain and can cause a range of damage depending on the Category of the storm.

(Image from WRAL.com.)

Also according to WRAL, “The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale is used to rate the potential damage of hurricanes. The scale goes from Category 1, which has the weakest winds, to Category 5, which has the strongest winds. Like you can see in the chart above, a Category 1 hurricane has maximum sustained winds of 74-95 mph and can cause some damage to property. A Category 5 hurricane has maximum sustained winds of 157 mph or more and can cause extensive damage or destruction. They can destroy homes and buildings. If you’re in the path of a Category 5 storm, evacuate as soon as possible.”

There are many things to consider when preparing for a hurricane. It is important to remember that you should not wait until there is a threat of a hurricane. Be proactive in your preparation for your own safety.

3 Steps to Prepare:

  1. Have a plan.

How will you remain safe until the storm passes? If there is flood potential, how can you prepare your home and your family for these circumstances? There is much to consider. Stay updated on conditions, so you can make different plans if necessary. Have several ways to receive weather alerts, such as National Weather Service cell phone alerts, NOAA Weather Radio or (@NWS) Twitter alerts.

  1. Stock up. If there is a bad storm, you will most likely lose power. Have a plan to keep food and other items cold. Make sure that you have plenty of non-perishable foods on-hand, as well as medication, flashlights, and other items for your emergency kit.

  2. Know your evacuation route.

If it becomes unsafe to stay where you are, have a safe plan (and plan B) for getting to a safe location. The CDC says,  “If you may need to evacuate, prepare a ‘go kit’ with personal items you cannot do without during an emergency.”

Some local businesses offer generators. By having a generator, you can have power even when there is an outage.  Businesses that offer generators are as follows:

  • Smith and Sons Heating and Cooling. (910)862-2622.

  • Thompson Small Engine Repair. (910)862-7782.

  • Ellis Robeson Electric. (910)862-1658.

Before a hurricane, determine if where you will stay during the storm is safe. American Red Cross stated, “Mobile/manufactured/trailer homes and recreational vehicles (RVs) cannot provide safe shelter from tropical-storm or hurricane-force winds.”

How Can You Protect Your Home Before a Hurricane? (from redcross.org).

Prepare for Wind

  • Secure items outside, such as lawn furniture and trash cans, that could be picked up by high winds and hurt someone.

  • Anchor objects that would be unsafe to bring inside, such as gas grills and propane tanks.

  • Trim or remove trees close enough to fall on your home. Review insurance policies.

  • Protect windows with permanent storm shutters or pre-cut plywood.

Prepare for Flooding

  • Clean out drains, gutters and downspouts.

  • Stockpile protective materials such as plastic sheeting and sandbags.

  • Consider installing a sump pump with battery backup.

  • Consider elevating the heating system, water heater, and electric panel.

Test your knowledge and hurricane preparedness… literally. Take the quiz linked below:

Hurricane Preparedness Quiz

Stay safe, stay diligent, and stay prepared this hurricane season!


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