When Mother Nature Wreaks Havoc: Hurricane Preparedness

Living in the South, we are blessed with good friends, deep family connections, amazing regional cuisine and some pretty amazing year-round weather. One can typically travel from the mountains to the coast in three hours. One of the drawbacks to living in the South is the annual hurricane season that begins June 1st and continues through November 30th each year. Historically, most of the strong storms form and make landfall in late August and continue through late October.
 "Rushing River" by Maggie Smith
Hurricane Hugo made landfall just north of Charleston September 22, 1989, twenty five years ago. Hugo was a Category 4 storm that stretched 35 miles wide, with storm surges 15-20 feet high and carried maximum sustained winds of 138 miles per hour. It wrought utter destruction along the coast and continued inland through South Carolina on a northern path through Charlotte and Virginia. The resulting affect left 60,000 people homeless, 270,000 people temporarily unemployed, 54,000 residents seeking emergency aid and some residents without power for over two weeks costing a total of $5.9 billion in damage. South Carolina has made significant improvements in disaster planning, emergency response and recovery in recent years to help alleviate these affects. However, South Carolina has also grown significantly in the past 25 years with populations shifting more toward the coast.

Many people think hurricanes will only affect coastal residents. As Hugo tore through South Carolina, the sustained winds carried inland spawning tornados through the Pee Dee and Midlands regions.  Whether you are visiting the coast, or working in the Midlands, everyone needs to be on alert when a hurricane threatens the coast.  Here are a few tips to help out in the event South Carolina experiences another major hurricane like Hugo.

Before: 

  • Have a Disaster Plan for your home and family – keep open lines of communication and create phone trees. Don’t forget the four legged friends and other pets.
  • Know your evacuation routes.
  • Create a Emergency Supply Kit – http://www.redcross.org/prepare/location/home-family/get-kit
  • Have a NOAA weather radio and plenty of batteries on hand.
  • Secure your home and outside objects.
  • Fill the car with gasoline.
  • Make sure the generator is ready – charged or gas reserves available.
During:
  • Evacuate when given the order, don’t try and wait out the storm.
  • Listen to radio or television broadcasts for important emergency information.
  • If your area does not require evacuation, stay indoors until the storm has passed.  You could be injured by strong winds and flying debris if you leave shelter.
  • Go to the most interior, ground level place in your home/shelter and stay away from windows and doors.
Following:
  • Check for injured or trapped people without putting yourself in danger.
  • Inspect your home for damage and take pictures for your insurance company.
  • Watch out for flooding, don’t drive through flooded areas.
  • Don’t walk in standing water – it could be electrically charged by downed power lines.
  • Don’t burn candles – ruptured gas lines can create fires from the candle flame.
  • Don’t drink tap water until officials certify the water is safe to drink.
  • Stay off roads – allow emergency responders access to assist those injured and utility crews access to restore essential power and water.
Additional resources for more detailed information and checklists:
Remember, just because we don’t live on the coast, the trailing weather can affect anyone in the hurricane’s path.  Keep your family and pets safe and help your neighbors who are less fortunate. Here’s to a safe hurricane season.
by Robin Weber
DPP HR Manager


Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net | Maggie Smith


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