Atmospheric and oceanic conditions still favor an above-normal 2022 Atlantic hurricane season, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s mid-season update issued recently by the Climate Prediction Center, a division of the National Weather Service.
The hurricane season runs from June 1 through Nov. 30 and, while we’re at the back half of the season, Sampson County has seen plenty of weather events near the tail end of the identified hurricane window as fall approaches.
This week marks the fourth anniversary of Hurricane Florence, which made landfall on Sept. 14, 2018 and brought devastation to Sampson County and a large portion of North Carolina. In the wake of Florence, the state of North Carolina reported 42 fatalities due to the hurricane and preliminary damage estimates of $16.7 billion, according to the National Weather Service.
An estimated 74,563 structures were flooded in Florence and 5,214 people were reportedly rescued from flooding. Nearly 140,000 North Carolinians registered for disaster assistance after the storm. South Carolina Emergency Management reported 9 fatalities across the state and more than $600 million in damage, according to the NWS. It was just the latest of ‘F’ storms to wreak havoc on North Carolina, with the 1990s bringing us Fran and Floyd.
Don’t delay in making sure you are prepared this hurricane season. There are several things you can begin doing right now to make sure have all that you need this season. Read below for tips from the N.C. State Extension.
Plan Ahead to Prevent Damage
Look around your house and yard. Is there anything that might become airborne in strong winds (container plants, hanging baskets, tools, lawn furniture, toys, bicycles, bird feeders, playhouses and doghouses, etc.)?
1. Make a list of things that need to be brought inside and where to put them.
2. Make a list of things that need to be tied down (boat on a trailer).
3. Buy the necessary equipment (anchoring devices, rope, etc.).
4. Estimate how long it will take to secure things.
These two lists are now part of your family’s emergency preparation. If you live on a barrier island or on the coast, plan to cover your windows with 5⁄8-inch exterior-grade plywood, screwed to the reinforced part of the window frame.
1. Measure and cut the pieces.
2. Mark which covers go over which window or gable vent.
3. Pre-drill screw holes every 18 inches.
4. If you have a gable vent, you may want to cover this space with plywood. Wind, water and sand can enter through the space and cause considerable damage.
Make the plywood covers now and store them. If you wait until you’re under a storm watch, you may run out of time and the building supply store may run out of materials.
Masking tape may reduce shattering of broken glass, but won’t keep glass from breaking.
Which Items in Your Home Could You Raise on Blocks or Move to a Higher Floor or Attic?
1. Get the blocks (concrete, not wood) and store them.
2. Learn how to disconnect your appliances.
3. List the things you want to save in the order of their importance to you.
4. Move cleaners, insecticides, and fuels to high shelves. Don’t store chemicals under the kitchen or bathroom sink or on the garage floor.
What Important Papers and Documents, Photo Albums, and Other Irreplaceable Items Are Stored in Low Cabinets or on the Floor?
Move your important papers now or add their location to the disaster plan list so you’ll remember to move them when the time comes.
Really important documents should be kept in a safety deposit box.
• Birth certificates
• Marriage certificates
• Mortgage papers
• Insurance policies
• Other important papers can be kept at home in waterproof packets. Remember to include them in your disaster plan. A waterproof and fireproof storage container is even better. In a catastrophic disaster, the official depository may be damaged or closed. Keep your household inventory list (for insurance), along with photos and video documentation, with these other important papers.
If a Hurricane May Be a Threat
• Cloth face coverings for every member of your family (age 2 and older) *
• Bedding, personal care, and meals for shelter *
• Hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, soap
• Change emergency drinking water supplies if older than 6 months. Store 1 gallon per person per day. Prepare a 3-day supply of water.
• Update phone numbers, addresses, meeting locations, etc., in your family disaster plan.
• Fill the car’s gas tank.
• Keep a tire repair kit, small shovel, and maps in the car.
• If you have a home garden, harvest all the vegetables that are ripe or close to being ready. (The crop may be destroyed by wind. Vegetables exposed to floodwaters must be discarded.)
• Start bringing unsecured items indoors or tie them down. (Use your list.)
• If you think your house may flood, locate concrete blocks for raising furniture and appliances. Water may wick up the blocks, so put plastic between the blocks and articles placed on top.
• Update the first aid kit.
• Buy batteries for portable radio and flashlights.
• Locate flashlights or battery-powered lanterns.
• Fill necessary prescriptions.
• Check sanitary supplies (toilet paper, towelettes, soap, liquid detergent, personal hygiene items, and plastic garbage bags with ties).
• Get cash from your bank account.
• Check your food supply. Make sure you have some packaged foods that can be prepared without cooking.
• Know where your important papers are. Pack them in waterproof containers or take them with you if you evacuate.
• Move all valuables to higher levels in your home.
• Move boats and trailers close to the house. Fill the boat with water to weigh it down and anchor it to the ground.
• Check materials on hand for emergency repairs (tarp, extra plywood, etc.).
• Buy several inexpensive cameras to take pictures of damage.
* new recommendations during time of pandemic
For more information on disaster preparedness and recovery visit the NC Disaster Information Center at https://ncdisaster.ces.ncsu.edu/.
Adapted by: Dr Wilma Hammett, Extension Home Environment Specialist, and Dr. Sarah Kirby, Extension Housing Specialist, from: A South Louisiana Guide to Living with Hurricanes, Cooperative Extension Service, Louisiana State University, and Hurricane Supply List, Martin County Florida.