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The best time to prepare is before hurricane season begins. Avoid having to rush through potentially life-saving preparations by waiting until it’s too late. Get your disaster supplies while the shelves are still stocked and get that insurance checkup early, as flood insurance requires a 30-day waiting period.

Develop An Evacuation Plan

If you are at risk from hurricane impacts, you need an evacuation plan. Now is the time to begin planning where you would go and how you would get there. You do not need to travel hundreds of miles. Your destination could be a friend or relative who lives in a well built home outside flood-prone areas. Plan several routes. Be sure to account for your pets. If you don’t have a vehicle, check with local officials to see what transportation options they may have available.

Assemble Disaster Supplies

Whether you’re evacuating or sheltering-in-place, you’re going to need supplies not just to get through the storm but for the potentially lengthy and unpleasant aftermath. Have enough non-perishable food, water and medicine to last each person in your family a minimum of three days (store a longer than three-day supply of water, if possible). Electricity and water could be out for weeks. You’ll need extra cash, a battery-powered radio and flashlights. You may need a portable crank or solar-powered USB charger for your cell phones. And lastly, don’t forget your pets!

Get an Insurance Checkup and Document Your Possessions

Call your insurance company or agent and ask for an insurance check-up to make sure you have enough insurance to repair or even replace your home and/or belongings. Remember, home and renters insurance doesn’t cover flooding, so you’ll need a separate policy for it. Flood insurance is available through your company, agent or the National Flood Insurance Program. Act now, as flood insurance requires a 30-day waiting period. Take the time before hurricane season begins to document your possessions: photos, serial numbers or anything else that you may need to provide your insurance company when filing a claim.

Create a Communication Plan

Take the time now to write down your hurricane plan, and share it with your family. Determine family meeting places, and make sure to include an out-of-town location in case of evacuation. Write down on paper a list of emergency contacts, and make sure to include utilities and other critical services — remember, the internet may not be accessible during or after a storm.

Strengthen Your Home

Now is the time to improve your home’s ability to withstand hurricane impacts. Trim trees. Install storm shutters, accordion shutters and/or impact glass. Seal outside wall openings. Remember, the garage door is the most vulnerable part of the home, so it must be able to withstand hurricane-force winds. Many retrofits are not as costly or time consuming as you may think. If you’re a renter, work with your landlord now to prepare for a storm. And remember – now is the time to purchase the proper plywood, steel or aluminum panels to have on hand if you need to board up the windows and doors ahead of an approaching storm.

Storm Surge

One of the greatest potentials for loss of life related to a hurricane is from the storm surge. Storm surge is simply water that is pushed toward the shore by the force of winds swirling around the storm. This advancing surge combines with the normal tides to create the hurricane storm tide, which can increase the mean water level to heights impacting roads, homes and other critical infrastructure. The shape and orientation of our coastline put’s us at risk for storm surge. Most recently we saw devastating storm surge from both hurricanes Florence and Dorian.

Know Your Zone

Know Your Zone is a cooperative effort of North Carolina Emergency Management and county emergency management partners in coastal counties.  After being piloted during the 2019 hurricane season, state and county emergency emergency management partnered to officially launch the initiative for the 2020 hurricane season.

North Carolina Know Your Zone is a tiered evacuation system that highlights areas most vulnerable to impacts from hurricanes, tropical storms and other hazards. If it becomes necessary, local officials will order evacuations using pre-determined zones created by coastal counties. The Know Your Zone lookup tool is a color-coded interactive map you can use to determine the evacuation zone where you live, work, or are visiting based upon your street address.

Evacuation zones highlight areas most at risk to storm surge and flooding. Local officials will determine which areas should be evacuated. Areas in Zone A will typically be evacuated first, followed by areas in Zone B, etc. While all zones won’t be evacuated in every event, emergency managers will work with local media and use other outreach tools to notify residents and visitors of impacted zones and evacuation instructions.

Please take some time this week to read more about Know Your Zone in preparation for this launch and coming hurricane season.

Prepare Before Hurricane Season infographic

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