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When a storm is forecast to impact your area, take action immediately to be ready. Ideally, longer-term preparedness actions such as having disaster supplies and an evacuation plan will have already been done before hurricane season, when the stores are stocked and time is on your side. When a storm threatens, there’s a lot more to do.

Protect Your Home

While longer-term home improvement needs to be done well ahead of time, when a storm threatens there are short-term actions to help protect your property. Board up windows, secure loose outdoor items and secure all exterior doors. Move your vehicle to a safe location if you’re not using it to evacuate. If you are evacuating, unplug electrical equipment such as radios, televisions and small appliances (freezers and refrigerators also need to be unplugged if there is a risk of flooding). If you are instructed to do so, shut off water, gas and electricity before leaving.

Here are some tips for preparing and strengthening your home for tropical storms and hurricanes:

  • Keep trees around hour home trimmed well before a storm to prevent damage from broken branches.
  • Shop now for tested and approved window coverings to put up when a hurricane approaches.
  • Bring loose outdoor items, such as patio furniture, inside.  They can blow around and cause damage to homes.
  • Secure all doors on your property.  Remember that garage doors are the usually the most vulnerable.
  • Move your car inside a garage or to another secure location.
  • For more information about strengthening your home, please visit flash.org.

Determine Sheltering Options and Consider Your Pets

While longer-term home improvement needs to be done well ahead of time, when a storm threatens there are short-term actions to help protect your property. Board up windows, secure loose outdoor items, and secure all exterior doors. Move your vehicle to a safe location if you’re not using it to evacuate. If you are evacuating, unplug electrical equipment such as radios, televisions and small appliances (freezers and refrigerators also need to be unplugged if there is a risk of flooding). If you are instructed to do so, shut off water, gas and electricity before leaving.

Download the FEMA App to find local shelters.

Ready Your Go-Bag, Medications and Supplies, Charge Phone, Fill Up/Charge Vehicle

Have a go bag ready to take things with you if you need to leave in a hurry. In addition to basic survival needs, don’t forget other supplies such as chargers and hygiene products. Plan to have enough for at least three days, and don’t forget about your pets. While preparing these basic needs, don’t forget to keep your phone charged, and make sure to fill up/charge your vehicle as well. Your go-bag should also contain important personal and property documents, including your written communication plan.

Help Your Neighbors – Especially the Elderly and Other Vulnerable People

Many people rely on their neighbors before and after a disaster, and there are many ways you can help them. Help them prepare for a storm, and help them evacuate if needed. Share the latest forecast information with your community so that they know what to expect.

Follow Evacuation Orders if Given

Always follow evacuation orders from local authorities — don’t wait for a hurricane to intensify before deciding to follow the order. You want to leave early enough to avoid being trapped by severe weather. If time allows, unplug electrical equipment, leave a note detailing your whereabouts and check to see if any neighbors need a ride.

Inland Flooding

Inland flooding is the most deadly and serious threat hurricanes bring to inland areas of North Carolina. Hurricane Matthew in October 2016 generated record flooding across much of the coastal plain of North Carolina, claimed 28 lives and left thousands homeless and entire towns under water.  More recently, Hurricane Florence once again produced devastating inland flooding and resulted in 11 flood-related deaths in North Carolina.  Overall, most hurricane deaths over the past 30 years have been the result of flooding, many of which have occurred in automobiles as people attempt to drive through flooded areas where water covers the road.  It is important to realize the amount of rain a tropical system produces is not related to the intensity of the wind. Weak hurricanes and even tropical storms have caused disastrous floods throughout history.

So what can you do? Anytime a hurricane or tropical storm threatens, think flooding. It is very important to determine if you live in an area at risk of flooding. If your yard or nearby roads around your home flood during ordinary thunderstorms, then you are at serious risk of flooding from torrential tropical rainfall. Those living near creeks, streams and drainage ditches should also closely watch water levels. Remember, extreme rainfall events bring extreme flooding typically not experienced in the past. During extreme events even those area which normally do not flood are at risk.

Always stay aware of road conditions and make sure your escape route is not becoming flooded by heavy rain. Never attempt to cross flowing water; instead, remember to turn around, don’t drown. The reason that so many people drown during flooding is because few of them realize the incredible power of water. A mere six inches of fast-moving flood water can knock over an adult. It takes only two feet of rushing water to carry away most vehicles. This includes pickups and SUVs.  Never allow children to play near streams, creeks or drainage ditches. As rain water runs off, streams, creeks, and ditches fill with running water that can easily sweep a child away.
Get Moving When a Storm Threatens infographic

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