How Best to Prepare Before, During & After a Hurricane Hits in the Mountains

Hurricanes in the MOUNTAINS!!

Statellite image of a hurricane

Hurricanes are powerful tropical weather systems with clear circulation and winds of 74 miles per hour or higher. When hurricanes move onto land, they sweep the ocean inward. They can cause tornadoes. They make heavy rains and floods. Hurricanes are grouped into categories based on the wind speed. The stronger the wind speed, the higher the category. Most damage caused by hurricanes is from flooding, not the strong winds.

North Carolina’s coast is one of the nation’s areas most open to a direct hurricane strike because its coastline extends out. All areas of the state – from coastal and sound counties to the mountains – have been impacted by hurricanes in the past 20 years. Heavy winds, tornadoes, strong thunderstorms, flooding, storm surge and landslides can all be caused by hurricanes causing tragic damage.

The Atlantic Hurricane Season runs from June 1 to November 30 with the peak season from mid-August to late October.

Categories
Tropical Depression – contains winds up to 39 miles per hour (mph).
Tropical Storm – 39 – 73 mph winds
Category 1 – 74 to 95 mph winds
Category 2 – 96 to 110 mph winds
Category 3 – 111 to 129 mph winds
Category 4 – 130 to 156 mph winds.
Category 5 – winds 157 mph or greater.

BEFORE:

To get ready for a hurricane:

  • Build an emergency kit.
  • Make a family communications plan.
  • Know you’re the routes you need to leave your home (evacuation routes). Locate your local emergency shelters.
  • Closely watch/listen to the weather reports. Listening every hour as the storm nears.
  • Put fuel in all vehicles and withdraw some cash from the bank. Gas stations and ATMs may be closed after a hurricane.
  • If authorities ask you to leave, do so quickly.
  • If you leave (evacuate), be alert to flooded or washed-out roads. Just a few inches of water can float a car. Think: Turn Around, Don’t Drown.
  • Keep a photo I.D. that shows your home address. You will need it when asking police if it is okay for you to re-enter your area or home.
  • Secure your property.
    • Bring inside all outdoor furniture, decorations, garbage cans and anything else that is not tied down.
    • Cover windows with permanent storm shutters or board up windows with 5/8” plywood, cut and ready to install. Tape does not stop windows from breaking.
    • Put in straps or extra clips to securely fasten your roof to the frame structure. This will lower roof damage.
    • Trim trees and shrubs around your home, so they are more wind resistant.
    • Clear clogged rain gutters and downspouts.
    • Reinforce garage doors. If wind enters a garage it can cause dangerous and expensive structural damage.

Know the terms:

  • Hurricane Watch – hurricane conditions (sustained winds greater than 74 mph) are possible. Watches are usually issued 48 hours before the beginning of tropical-storm-force-winds.
  • Hurricane Warning – hurricane conditions (sustained winds greater than 74 mph) are expected. Warnings are usually issued 36 hours before the beginning of tropical-storm-force-winds.
  • Tropical Storm Warning – tropical storm conditions (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) are possible within 36 hours.

DURING

If a hurricane is likely in your area, you should:

  • Listen to the radio or television for information.
  • Secure your home, close storm shutters and secure outdoor objects or bring them indoors.
  • Turn off gas, water and power if you are told to do so. Otherwise, turn the refrigerator thermostat to its coldest setting and keep its doors closed.
  • Turn off propane tanks.
  • Try not to use the phone, except for serious emergencies.
  • Moor your boat if time permits.
  • Make sure you have a supply of water for sanitary purpose such as cleaning and flushing toilets. Fill the bathtub and other larger containers with water.
  • Find out how to keep food safe during and after an emergency.

Leave your home or area if you are:

  • Told to do so by local police.
  • In a mobile home or temporary structure. Such structures are particularly dangerous during high wind events no matter how well fastened to the ground.
  • In a high-rise building because hurricane winds are stronger at higher levels.
  • On the coast, in a floodplain, near a river or on an island waterway.

If you are unable to leave, go to the safest room in your house.

  • Stay indoors during the hurricane. Stay away from windows and glass doors.
  • Close all interior doors – secure and brace external doors.
  • Keep curtains and blinds closed.
  • Do not be fooled if there is a lull; it could be the eye of the storm – winds will pick up again.
  • Take shelter in a small interior room, closet or hallway on the lowest level.
  • Lie on the floor under a table or another sturdy object.

AFTER

  • Stay tuned to local radio, television or NOAA Weather Radio for the latest news.
  • Stay alert for extra rainfall and following flooding even after the storm has ended.
  • Drive only if needed. Stay away from flooded roads and washed-out bridges. Stay off the streets. If you must go out, look for fallen objects, downed electrical wires, and weakened bridges, roads and sidewalks.
  • Keep away from loose or dangling power lines. Report them as quickly as you can to the power company.
  • If you need to reach your family, use your family communications plan or contact the American Red Cross at 1-800-RED-CROSS/1-800-733-2767 or visit the ARC Safe and Well site: www.safeandwell.org.
  • If you cannot return home and need shelter, text SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (example: shelter 12345).
  • Return home only when officials say it is safe.
  • Walk carefully around the outside your home and check for loose power lines, gas leaks and structural damage before entering. Stay out of any building if you smell gas, if floodwaters remain around the building or your home was damaged by fire.
  • Check your home for damage. Take pictures of damage, both of the building and its contents, for insurance purposes. If you have any doubts about safety, have your home check out by a trained building inspector or structural engineer before entering.
  • Use battery-powered flashlights in the dark. Do NOT use candles. Note: The flashlight should be turned on outside before entering because the battery may make a spark that could cause leaking gas to catch on fire, if present.
  • Many longer-term housing choices may be open to help those whose homes have been badly damaged or destroyed. Check this website or listen to local media after a hurricane to learn what choices may be open to you.
  • Watch your pets closely and keep them under your direct control. Watch out for wild animals, especially poisonous snakes. Use a stick to poke through debris.
  • Do not drink or make food with tap water until you are sure it’s not dirty.
  • Check refrigerated food for spoilage. If in doubt, throw it out.
  • Wear protective clothing and be cautious when cleaning up to not get hurt.
  • Use the telephone only for emergency calls.
  • NEVER use a generator inside homes, garages, crawlspaces, sheds, or other enclosed areas, even when using fans or opening doors and windows for airing. Deadly levels of carbon monoxide can quickly build up in these areas and can stay around for hours, even after the generator has shut off.