Hurricane Preparedness

Hurricane Preparedness

As hurricane season progresses, it's important to remain vigilant and prepared for potential storms. While we are fortunate to live in Northern Virginia, even this region can experience the damaging effects of hurricanes. Just a few years ago, in 2020, the United States faced one of the most active hurricane seasons on record, with 12 tropical systems making landfall. 88% of this year's hurricane season is still ahead of us. As we enter the mid-August to mid-October period, historically known for heightened storm activity, it's crucial to reflect on the potential impact of hurricanes on our community.

Two recent hurricanes, Irene in 2011 and Isabel in 2003, left a lasting mark on the Alexandria area. Isabel alone caused over $5 billion in damages from North Carolina to Pennsylvania. The area experienced wind speeds peaking at 71 mph, resulting in severe tidal flooding and extensive tree damage. Power outages lasting a week or more were common, and Old Town's storm surge surpassed its historic record from the hurricane of 1933.

With this in mind, here are steps you can take today to ensure your safety and preparedness:

1. Understand Hurricane Alerts: Distinguish between a hurricane watch (possible conditions) and a hurricane warning (expected conditions). Sign up for local alerts, monitor news and weather reports, and be informed.

2. Evacuation Plan: Have a well-defined evacuation plan, including a designated place to stay and a "go bag" containing essential emergency supplies.

3. Home Protection: Safeguard your home by clearing drains and downspouts, securing outdoor furniture, and anchoring items susceptible to strong winds.

4. Document Safeguarding: Collect and store vital financial, medical, and legal documents in a secure location.

To stay informed during emergencies, sign up to receive alerts through the National Weather Service and NOAA Weather Radio. If authorities issue an evacuation notice, follow it promptly, and bring your "go bag." Create a family emergency communication plan with designated contacts.

For evacuation planning, learn your community's evacuation plan and routes. Identify emergency shelter locations. Prepare for pets and practice your plan.

Remember to secure critical documents by storing important records, licenses, and certificates in waterproof containers. Maintain at least a week's supply of medications and prescriptions. Establish an out-of-state contact for reuniting with family.

Essential supplies for preparedness include:

- A 3-day water and non-perishable food supply.

- Infant and pet supplies.

- Medications and medical equipment.

- First aid kit and personal hygiene items.

Additional crucial items:

- Tools like flashlights, batteries, and multipurpose tools.

- Fire extinguisher, matches, and utility tools.

- Plastic sheeting and duct tape for sheltering in place.

- Clothing, blankets, and personal identification.

Hygiene and comfort items:

- Antibacterial soap, hand sanitizer, and personal hygiene products.

- Garbage bags, toilet paper, and surface disinfectants.

- Valuables, sentimental items, and comfort items for children.

Lastly, be a good neighbor! Check on elderly and vulnerable community members before, during, and after emergencies. Collaborate and support each other during challenging times.

While the odds of a significant hurricane impacting our region may be slim, taking these precautions ensures you're ready for any situation. Whether you're at home or on vacation, being prepared is a responsible and proactive choice. Stay safe!