For Texas residents, hurricane season can bring unwanted stress and challenges. Skip back two years ago, when Hurricane Harvey hit the Lone Star State, causing $125 billion in damage, mostly through flooding in Houston and surrounding areas. Nearly one in three Texans were affected in some way by the storm.
Hurricane season, of course, officially began June 1 and continues until Nov. 30. While the 2019 season has felt fairly uneventful for Texans so far, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently updated its predictions, forecasting an increased likelihood of an “above-normal” second half of the season and a sharp increase in storms between Aug. 20-Sept. 11.
NOAA, as of Aug. 8, predicted that this “above-normal” season will bring 10-17 named storms (winds of 39 mph or more), 5-9 hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or more), and 2-4 major hurricanes (winds of 111 mph or more) as of Aug. 8, 2019.
This updated prediction serves as a reminder that hurricane preparation is crucial. Thankfully, weather services can warn residents who might be affected by hurricanes ahead of time, but residents should prepare for these storms before they make landfall. Here’s what you need to know.
Before the storm:
Make a plan. Don’t wait until you’re staring down a Category 4 hurricane to come up with a plan! By thinking ahead and laying out a detailed strategy, you can prevent avoidable damage or difficulty.
Research evacuation spots. There are a lot of shelters that are available during evacuations, but you should do your homework beforehand to make sure that you know which shelter is best for you. Remember, some shelters don’t accept pets.
Prepare your home. Install hurricane-proof windows and shutters.
If you can, buy a generator. This will protect you if you lose power. If purchasing a generator isn’t an option, read more about steps to take if you lose power below.
Assemble an emergency kit. This is key. Put together a kit including plenty of water, non-perishable food, medicine, extra clothing, flashlights, and lots of batteries. Aim to have enough supplies for at least 2 weeks. Read more about our emergency kit tips here.
Get flood insurance. It’s especially important you purchase flood insurance in advance. Home insurance plans don’t cover floods and some plans won’t cover wind damage, either. You’ll have to wait 30 days after purchasing flood insurance for coverage to take effect, so don’t wait until a storm is approaching to protect your home.
During the storm:
Your safety is the #1 priority. Listen to evacuation orders and get to a safe location. Keep updated on weather forecasts and stay inside, even if there is a period of calm outside. You should designate a safe room in your home – a basement or a windowless interior room works best.
Last-minute preparations. When the storm approaches, bring any outdoor furniture inside, fill your car up with gas, and be sure to account for any furry friends that you have in your family. They need protection, too!
Think about electronics. For those without a generator, losing power during a hurricane is alarming. Unplug large electronics and appliances or use surge protectors. Keep smaller electronics like your phone charged and nearby.
Keep an eye out for tornadoes. Hurricanes can spawn twisters, so be on watch for them as well.
Don’t open the fridge. A closed refrigerator door can keep food cold for a long time, which is vital when you don’t have power. Refrain from opening the door if you can to preserve perishable food.
Drink bottled water. Avoid drinking tap water during or after a hurricane until local authorities have cleared the water supply as safe.
After the storm:
Be careful when driving. Do not drive through any standing water and look out for downed power lines. The storm might be over, but there could still be hidden dangers on the roads.
Continue listening to weather forecasts. Stay in the know about the storm’s status and listen for experts and authorities to give the official all-clear before leaving your safe place.
Take note of any damage. Whether it’s your home or your belongings, you should make a list of any damage you notice once the storm has passed.
Watch out for scams. Unfortunately, fake charities and emergency fundraisers tend to pop up after major storms. Do your homework before donating to any organizations or funds. You can always check sites like give.org, Charity Navigator, or Charity Watch to stay informed.
The 2019 hurricane season will likely peak during August and September, but you can minimize damages by taking preventive measures. The best way to avoid unnecessary harm to yourself and your home is to get prepared before a storm hits and stay prepared through the remainder of hurricane season.