Hurricane Threatens Home

Problem: Major hurricane is heading toward your location, bringing dangerous winds, floods, and storm surges.

Background: While hurricanes are relatively rare events at any one location, none of the United States coastal areas is immune. Hurricanes are tropical cyclones in which winds reach speeds of 74 miles per hour or more, and blow in a large spiral around a relatively calm center (the eye of the hurricane). Near the center counter clockwise rotating winds may gust to more than 200 miles per hour. Hurricanes that strike the eastern United States originate in the tropical and subtropical North Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico. Most occur in August, September, and October, but the 6-month period from June 1 to November 30 is considered the Atlantic hurricane season. An aver age of six Atlantic hurricanes occur each year, and drift gradually to the west-northwest. Initially the storms move forward very slowly in the tropics (about 15 miles per hour), in creasing in forward speed to some times more than 50 miles per hour.

What to do: Collect and read government and community literature about safety measures. When a hurricane threatens, you need to decide whether to evacuate or to ride out the storm at home. If local authorities recommend evacuation, leave! Their advice is based on their knowledge of the storm’s strength and its potential for death and destruction. In general, plan to leave if you live on the coastline or offshore islands, if you live in a mobile home, or if you live near a river or in a flood plain.
Make plans before the hurricane season (June). Learn the storm surge history and elevation of your area.
Determine safe routes inland, the location of official shelters, and where to move your boat (if you have one) in an emergency. Trim back dead wood from trees, check for loose rain gutters and downspouts. If shutters on your home don’t protect windows, keep boards on hand to nail over the windows and cover the glass. When a hurricane watch is sued for your area, check often for official bulletins on radio, TV, or National Oceanic and Atmospheric Ad ministration (NOAA) weather radio. Fuel your car, check mobile home tie-downs, moor or move your small craft to safe shelter, and stock up on canned goods. Also check your sup ply of special medicines and drugs and batteries for radios and flash lights. Secure lawn furniture and other loose outdoor items. Tape, board, or shutter windows, and wedge sliding glass doors to prevent them from lifting out of their tracks.
When a hurricane warning is sued for your area, stay tuned to radio, TV, or NOAA weather radio for official bulletins. Leave if you are in a mobile home, or if officials advise. Leave in daylight if possible, shut off water and power at mains; take small valuables and papers but travel light. Leave food and water for pets, lock up the home and drive carefully to the nearest designated shelter using the recommended evacuation routes. If you stay home, board up garage and porch doors, move valuables to upper floors, and bring pets inside. Fill containers and bathtub with a supply of water for drinking. Turn the temperature control in the refrigerator to coldest set ting and don’t open unnecessarily. Use the phone for emergencies only.

Special advice: After the all-clear is announced, drive carefully and watch for dangling electrical wires, weakened roads and bridges, and flooded low spots. Avoid downed power lines and any water in which they may be lying, as well as weakened tree limbs or damaged overhanging boards. Watch for poisonous snakes, which may have been driven from their dens by high water. Don’t go sightseeing. Report broken or damaged water, sewer, and electrical lines. Avoid using the phone any more than absolutely necessary (the system will likely be jammed with calls). Use caution when re-entering your home. Check for gas leaks (don’t use any flames for light) by smelling for any gas like odor, and check food and water for spoilage. Don’t drink or prepare food with tap water until you are sure it is not contaminated. For more tips on re-entering your home.

Helpful hint: Beware of the “eye” of the storm. If the eye of the hurricane passes over your area, be aware that the improved weather conditions are temporary, and that the storm conditions will return—sometimes in a few seconds—with winds that come from the opposite direction.