In our hectic day-to-day lives, it’s tough to carve out time to prepare for much of anything. Yet hurricanes are deadly, dangerous weather events that can lay waste to entire areas.
That means they require our attention not only when the weather reports say one is arriving soon, but well before hurricane season when we have the time to properly prepare our home and our family.
Given that, 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.
|#||MPH||Type of 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
Few of us drive our cars much over 70 mph. So it’s tough to grapple with winds that are moving between 90 and 100+ mph. However, the expected damage column above should help bring it to life.
Downed trees and power poles start at Category 1, houses start to lose parts at Category 2, roofs go flying at Category 3, and it gets worse from there. Power and water loss that can range from days to weeks to months and even uninhabitable are perhaps more sobering as we think about preparing for such an event.
Even without a direct hit from a hurricane, it’s the related weather that can cause considerable damage. This includes storm surges, heavy rains, flooding, and tornadoes. All of these require your consideration and preparation.
Do Hurricanes Hit North Carolina?
Since records have been kept starting in 1851, North Carolina ranks third with 58 direct hurricane hits and seven major hurricanes rated at Category 3 or higher. For more insight, see our article Worst U.S. Cities for Hurricane Damage where the top three cities are Cape Hatteras, Morehead City, and Wilmington.
Fortunately, hurricanes are not an every-year occurrence in the Charlotte area. Hurricane Hugo brought 90-mph winds in 1989, resulting in devastating damage. More recently, Tropical Storm Zeta in 2020 brought 50-mph winds, bringing down trees and causing power outages. Its heavy rain caused flash floods in our area.
Signs You’re Not Prepared
Hopefully, that insight into hurricanes, the damage they can deliver, and their likelihood of arriving at our doorstep here in North Carolina, has motivated you to consider preparing for the next one, which is likely to be here sooner than we think.
Here are the signs that you’re not prepared. More importantly, we’ve also included information on what you can do about it.
- No family emergency plan. If you don’t have a plan, the winds can blow you in any direction, in this case literally. A family emergency plan can guide your family’s actions before, during, and after a hurricane. It will provide a sound basis for decision-making in the face of changing conditions. It can also take into account workplace and school plans. Ready.gov offers a family emergency plan that can be an excellent starting point for developing your own plan.
- No emergency home shelter. If you haven’t designated part of your home as an emergency shelter, your family could wind up anywhere. It can be an interior room without windows or in the basement to protect from high winds. Inform your family when they should gather as the hurricane approaches. Stock it with the supplies you’ll need for days and even weeks.
- No emergency supplies on hand. Most stores won’t be open and even if they were, they’d be out of most everything. You’ll need supplies sufficient to support your family for days and weeks already in place in your emergency shelter. It’s 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 suggested list of supplies for a basic disaster supply kit.
- No weather monitoring system. You shouldn’t leave your shelter until the all-clear has been issued. Without a weather monitoring system, you’ll have no idea what’s happening. A smartphone weather app can provide alerts but is also subject to the viability of the cell phone system. It’s best to have a battery-powered NOAA weather radio as a backup source of information.
- No evacuation information. Based on the hurricane’s path and severity, you could be ordered to evacuate your home. If that should happen, you’ll need information on nearby shelters and the route to get there. With changing conditions and hurricane path variation, shelters may be closed and roads either clogged with traffic or flooded. It’s best to have backup plans, including several shelter locations and alternate travel routes. You’ll also need to take emergency supplies with you to the shelter.
- No home preparation. If you’re sheltering at home, it would be best if your home could survive the expected wind and rain. That means you’ll need to be conducting regular routine maintenance such as repairing shingles and roof vents, keeping gutters and downspouts clear, and trimming trees so they’re not threatening to damage your house. A waterproof basement or crawl space is 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.
We Can Help
We can also help identify any issues with your basement or crawl space that need to be addressed before a hurricane or tropical storm arrives. For a free inspection, contact the professionals at Dry Pro Foundation and Crawl Space Specialists.