Pre-storm Preparation

A recent Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) article marking the beginning of National Hurricane Preparedness Week urged Americans to “…assess their personal readiness to respond to emergencies”. Being prepared is a key to readiness.

Planning for emergencies, especially one like a hurricane or severe coastal storm involves dedicated efforts including: assembling an Emergency Supply Kit or “Go Bag” if evacuation is possible; making a Family Emergency Plan; and Being Informed.

Each of these steps is important in insuring the safety of yourself and your family. An Emergency Supply Kit should be assembled and include things such as non-perishable food items, water, a battery powered or hand crank radio, extra flashlights and batteries, prescription medications and medical supplies, bedding and clothing, and copies of important documents to name a few.

A Go Bag should be assembled, if evacuation is possible, and include things such as water and non-perishable food, battery operated radio and batteries, first aid kit, flashlight, maps, important documents including pictures, clothing and blankets, prescriptions and medications, infant supplies and pet supplies to name a few.

A Family Emergency Plan is very important as your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is critical to know how you will contact one another, how you will get back together and what you will do in an emergency. The plan should include things such as where your family will meet both inside and outside of your neighborhood, identifying an out of town contact for centralized communication, evacuation sites and where to go in an emergency, alternate routes to destinations if roads are blocked, and how you will take care of pets to name a few.

Being Informed is a key. You should know the various terms associated with storms and hurricanes and monitor local radio and television news outlets or listen to NOAA Weather Radio for the latest developments.

  • Know that a Hurricane Watch means a hurricane is possible in your area.
  • Know that a Hurricane Warning means a hurricane is expected in your area.
  • Know that hurricanes can produce widespread torrential rains and localized flooding which can be extremely dangerous.
  • Know how to Prepare your Home by doing things such as covering windows with plywood or hurricane shutters, bringing in outdoor furniture and loose items, keeping trees and shrubs well trimmed so they are more wind resistant, turning refrigerators and freezers to coldest settings and keep its doors closed, turning off propane tanks, and ensuring a supply of water for sanitary purposes to name a few.

Listening to Local Officials is an important action that will allow you to learn about emergency plans and instructions that are provided.

These pre-storm preparatory actions and information are a brief outline of the things that individuals can do to protect themselves and their families. There is a wealth of information from federal, state and local emergency management agency’s available to the public. One of the best sources is a FEMA sponsored website, which provides information about preparing for emergencies and is listed in the resource section below. There are links from this site to many other informational sources.

Residents should be aware of and monitor developing weather conditions. In addition to local and national weather information, a website sponsored by the National Weather Service provides information on warnings, observations, forecasts and safety information. Please use the link provided in the resource section below to access this website.

Residents should also ensure that that they have the appropriate types and levels of property and homeowners/renters insurance and flood insurance in place. There is a great deal of information about flooding, flood risks, insurance coverage and other important information at the National Flood Insurance Program’s website which is listed in the resource section below.

Another key to pre-storm preparation is Hazard Mitigation. This is defined as “Sustained action taken to reduce or eliminate the long-term risk to life and property from a hazard event”. More simply stated, it is “Any action taken to reduce future disaster losses”.

Mitigation actions fall into six general categories:

  • Prevention – measures such as planning and zoning, open space preservation, land development regulations, building codes and storm water management
  • Property Protection – measures such as acquisition, relocation, storm shutters, rebuilding, barriers, floodproofing, insurance, and structural retrofits for high winds
  • Public Education and Awareness – measures such as outreach projects, real estate disclosure, hazard information centers, and technical assistance
  • Natural Resource Protection – measures such as erosion control and sediment control, stream corridor protection, vegetative management, and wetlands preservation
  • Emergency Services – measures such as hazard threat recognition, hazard warning systems, emergency response, protection of critical facilities, and health and safety maintenance
  • Structural Projects – measures such as seawalls, bulkheads, retaining walls, channel modifications, storm sewers, and retrofitting buildings and elevated roadways

Mitigating actions can include: elevating home appliances, heating systems and electrical equipment; elevating homes; installing sump pumps; installing draining systems; installing shutters and weatherproofing; and relocating structures to name a few.

Funding for mitigation projects is available to local governments through federal programs such as: Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP); Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program (PDM); Flood Mitigation Grant Program (FMP); Repetitive Flood Claims program (RFC); and Severe Repetitive Loss Program (SRLP).

Suffolk County and many of the Towns and Villages within the county have the required FEMA approved Hazard Mitigation Plan in place and are eligible to apply for grants. For additional information about mitigation, please visit the NY SEMO and Suffolk County websites listed in the resource section below:

Please take the time to visit all of these sites – being informed and educated is one of the primary defenses against losses.

RESOURCES

Emergency Preparations - www.ready.gov/america

Weather - www.weather.gov

Insurance - www.floodsmart.gov

Mitigation - www.semo.state.ny.us

www.suffolkcountyny.gov/RESPOND