The Atlantic Ocean is known for its hurricane season between the 1st of June and the 30th of November. Its peak activity starts in late August and continues through September.
Hurricane Katrina hit on the 28th of August 2005, causing countless deaths and over $108 billion worth of damage. In the aftermath, millions of people offered to help rebuild the area. Many people also started making preparations for a future natural disaster.
The tragedy in the gulf was a harsh lesson and people didn’t want to have to go through it again. It’s been over 10 years and the towns aren’t fully rebuilt. You can still see many signs of the hurricane’s destruction.
In order to prepare for hurricanes, you’ll first have to understand them. They come in different sizes with various wind speeds. You should make a plan for each scenario and make a priority from finding out what you are dealing with first.
We’ll go through the hurricane categories and then we’ll move to a list of supplies and precautions. This knowledge will make a huge difference if you ever have to face something like a hurricane.
The first question you need to answer is: should you evacuate or bug in? The decision is very important and you will not have much time to make it. If you stay too long, you might not be able to leave anymore. Check the forecast and try assessing the risk. Depending on how strong the storm and the winds are, you will be able to make an informed decision. Of course, you also need to take into calculation your environment and how well you’ll be able to protect yourself from such a storm. Here are the hurricane categories according to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.
#1 Category I Hurricanes – Sustained winds of 75-95MPH
Winds are very dangerous and will produce some damage. Power lines are likely to be out for several days. Trees with shallow roots will be toppled and large tree branches will snap. Homes will incur minor damage. The roof, shingles, vinyl siding and gutters are likely to be affected.
#2 Category II Hurricanes – Sustained winds of 96-110MPH
Winds are extremely dangerous and will cause extensive damage. You should expect an almost complete power outage that can last even for weeks. Many trees with shallow roots will be uprooted. Roads will be blocked by trees and debris. Even homes with a well-constructed frame will sustain major roof and siding damage.
#3 Category III Hurricanes – Sustained Winds 111-129 MPH
Damage will be devastating. Both electricity and water will be unavailable for whole weeks after the storm had passed. Many more trees will be uprooted and there will be a lot more debris blocking the roads. Even well-built framed homes will take major damage of roof decking and gable ends. It is possible that the storm will partially remove them.
#4 Category IV Hurricanes – Sustained Winds 130-156 MPH
Damage will be catastrophic. Most of the affected area will be uninhabitable for weeks or even months. Residential areas will be isolated by fallen trees and power poles. Most trees will be either snapped or uprooted. Even well-build framed homes will lose most of the roof structure and exterior walls.
#5 Category V Hurricanes – Sustained Winds 157 MPH or higher
Damages will be catastrophic. Similar to a category 4 hurricane, the affected area will be uninhabitable for months. Power, water and utilities outages will last for months. Residential areas will be isolated by debris and fallen trees. Most of the framed homes will be completely destroyed. The walls and roof will collapse in most cases.
Fight or flight?!
Depending on how strong your house is and the weather forecast, you will have to decide quickly if you are staying or evacuating. If you decide that it’s too dangerous to bug in, take these precautions into consideration:
#1 Plan ahead
During Katrina, hotels and motels hours away from New Orleans were completely booked. Don’t start rushing down the highway without a direction or destination, hoping to find a place. It would be worth your while to talk to a relative or a friend that could have you for a couple of days.
#2 Don’t waste time
During a crisis situation, roads and highways are likely to get jammed with cars. Especially the main roads leading out of towns and cities will be blocked. Cars can run out of fuel or break down, worsening the whole situation. Make sure that you always have a full tank and some spare fuel. Also make sure that you leave as soon as possible to beat the crowd.
#3 Plan on delays before returning
Even if you manage to evade a hurricane, it will take some time before you’ll be able to return. It is likely the roads will be blocked or damaged. Make sure that you have some bills or an ID with your address on it to prove your residence, if you have to.
#4 Lock the house
It may seem like an obvious thing, but in the middle of a crisis, you might overlook it. Before leaving, you should make some preparation for debris and damage.
#5 Tell friends, relatives and neighbors where you are going
Make sure that people know where you are going. Exchange phone numbers and stay in touch. Should anything happen to you, they will find out quickly. However, evacuating is a safe move.
#6 Turn off power at the main breaker box
Before leaving, make sure you turn the power off. This will prevent any electrical damage from happening to your home. Leaving it on could pose a real threat. Water or floods can cause a short circuit, burning the electrical framework and could even cause fires.
If you decide to bug in, there are some precautions you should take. It’s safe to assume that utilities and services will be out for a several days. Here are some items that you should include in your hurricane survival kit. If you are missing most of the stuff on the list, you might want to consider evacuating. Just make sure you don’t take too long.