From first thing in the morning to late at night, we’re all in a constant battle to keep up with so many urgent and not-so-urgent tasks. With that in mind, it’s easy to understand how we might not be fully prepared for hurricanes.
Of course, as the latest hurricane heads our way with crazy winds, rains, and more, that’s when we wish we’d done our best to prepare. By then, it’s too late, and we’re faced with evacuation. Yet that too needs preparation.
What are the signs that you’re not prepared? And more importantly, how can you be prepared for the next hurricane?
What is a Hurricane?
Hurricanes are intense tropical storms with sustained winds above 74 mph. That’s a Category 1 hurricane. You can find the five categories of hurricanes listed below along with the type of damage to expect.
|Hurricane Category||Sustained Winds||Expected Damage|
|1||74 to 95 mph||Some damage to roof, vinyl siding, gutters, trees toppled, branches down, power lines and poles down, power loss for a few to several days.|
|2||96 to 110 mph||Extensive damage to frame homes and trees, power poles down, power loss for days to weeks.|
|3||111 to 129 mph||Devastating damage, loss of roof and gable ends, trees and power poles down, loss of both power and water for weeks.|
|4||130 to 156 mph||Catastrophic damage, loss of roof and some walls, most trees and power poles down, loss of power for weeks or months. Area uninhabitable for weeks or months.|
|5||157 mph or higher||High percentage of frame homes destroyed with total roof failure and wall collapse. Power out for weeks or months. Area uninhabitable.|
Source: OSHA Hurricane Preparedness https://www.osha.gov/hurricane/preparedness
As you can see, those ferocious winds can cause such damage that power and water can be lost for days and weeks at a time. Then there are the Category 4 and 5 hurricanes that leave the area uninhabitable for weeks or months.
It’s also important to note that hurricanes also bring storm surges, the leading cause of hurricane fatalities, heavy rain, flooding, and tornadoes. All this can happen well away from the direct path of the hurricane. The rains and flooding can last for days after the hurricane has moved on.
Do Hurricanes Hit Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, and Mississippi?
Since records have been kept starting in 1851, Alabama ranks sixth in hurricanes that have hit the state. Georgia is seventh, and Mississippi is eighth. Tennessee isn’t on the direct list, but certainly bears the brunt of hurricane weather after it passes through the other states.
Signs You’re Not Prepared
Hurricane winds, storm surge, heavy rain, flooding, and tornadoes should be warning enough that you should devote your attention to preparation to protect you, your family, and your home.
Here are the signs that you’re not prepared and, more importantly, what you can do about it.
- No family emergency plan. Planning is an extremely important aspect of hurricane preparation. Even though things may not always go as planned, at least you’re not trying to make critical decisions on the fly without adequate information. Your plan should guide you and your family’s activities before, during, and after a hurricane. It should also include key items from workplace and school plans. Ready.gov offers a family emergency plan that can be an excellent starting point for your own plan.
- No emergency home shelter. Find an area in your home that can serve as a shelter. It can be a part of your basement or an interior room without windows since it needs to provide protection from high winds. Stock it with the supplies you’ll need for days and weeks. Let your family know where they should gather as the hurricane approaches.
- No emergency supplies on hand. Without emergency supplies, including food and water, you’re not going to be able to stay in your shelter for very long. Moreover, once you leave your shelter, there may be very few stores open that have the things you need. That makes it critical to stock your shelter with food, water, a first aid kit, a flashlight and batteries, charged cell phones, prescription medications, pet food, sleeping bags, personal hygiene items, and more. Ready.gov has a detailed listing of basic disaster supply kits.
- No weather monitoring system. Watching the weather without exposing yourself to the high winds is very important. You can’t leave your shelter in any level of safety until the hurricane has moved well beyond your area and isn’t expected to head back your way. A smartphone weather app can prove helpful in getting alerts and keeping up to date. But it relies on cell phone towers that may be down after a hurricane. Given that possibility, have on hand a battery-powered NOAA weather radio to stay informed.
- No evacuation information. If your home is damaged or if you’re ordered to evacuate, you’ll need to have information on shelters as well as travel directions. Since hurricane conditions are constantly changing, the shelter you’re headed toward may be closed or the route flooded. Those are good reasons to have backup shelter locations and alternate travel routes. You’ll also need to take emergency supplies with you to the shelter.
- No home preparation. To serve as a shelter, your home needs to hold up under punishment from hurricane winds and rain. Regular ongoing maintenance is required for the roof, gutters and downspouts, as well as exterior drainage systems. A waterproof basement or crawl space is the best practice as is a sump pump with battery backup during power outages. Windows need to be protected with storm shutters or with plywood. Ideally, you’ll have a wind-load garage door that can withstand hurricane winds.
For further advice on hurricane preparation, see our article Hurricane Preparedness Week in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, and Mississippi.
We Can Help
We can also help identify any issues with your basement or crawl space that should be addressed before a hurricane arrives. For a free inspection, contact the professionals at AFS Foundation and Waterproofing Specialists.