Atlantic Hurricane Season Begins – Preparation Advice
The six-month Atlantic Hurricane Season is underway, and visitors and locals in Sussex County are urged to be prepared.
Last summer was the most active on record, with 30 named storms and 14 hurricanes, six of which became major. This year could also be above normal.
“Last year, for sure, was one of the most surreal experiences for emergency managers across the country, whether it was the pandemic, wildfires out west, or a record-setting hurricane season here in the east,” Sussex County EOC Director Joseph L. Thomas said. “In all that, the one common thread that ties it all together is the need for preparation. As long as we are prepared, we can handle just about anything. But it starts with planning, and everyone, from governments to everyday citizens, have a meaningful role to play.”
The Sussex County Emergency Operations Center invites citizens to prepare a Safety Profile through the free Smart911.com service that makes potentially life-saving information available for first-responders such as special medical conditions or family contacts.
Residents and visitors in flood prone or other vulnerable areas should pack a kit containing vital supplies and information and be prepared to evacuate quickly.
The Sussex County EOC also provided this preparation advice:
If you live in a flood-prone or other vulnerable area, be prepared to evacuate. Plan your evacuation route now. Emergency managers will notify the public, via the media, of what areas should evacuate and when. In the event you evacuate, take a storm kit. Take valuable and/or important papers. Secure your house by locking the windows and doors. Turn off all utilities (gas, water, electric, etc.). Notify a family member or someone close to you outside the evacuation area of your destination.
Ø Secure all outdoor items. Property owners also will need to secure their boats. Area residents should clear rainspouts and gutters and trim any trees that may pose a problem during high winds.
Ø Have a family disaster kit. This kit should include the following items:
- A three-day supply of water. This should include at least one gallon of water per person per day;
- Non-perishable foods and a manual can opener;
- A change of clothes and shoes for each person;
- Prescription medicines;
- A blanket or sleeping bag and pillow for each person;
- Personal hygiene items;
- A flashlight and extra batteries for each person;
- Special needs items, such as formula and diapers for infants, as well as
items needed for elderly or disabled family members;
- A portable radio with extra batteries;
- Money. During power outages, ATMs will not work;
- Fuel. Gas pumps are also affected by power outages, so it is a good idea to have fuel in advance.
Ø In the event of an approaching storm, travel during daylight hours. Do not wait until the last minute to make plans or to purchase gasoline and supplies. When a storm watch is issued, you should monitor the storm on the radio and television. An evacuation could take 24 to 36 hours prior to a storm’s onset.
Ø If ordered to evacuate and seek shelter elsewhere, follow the instructions of local emergency managers on where to go and when. Authorities will announce shelter locations in advance of their opening, which could include multiple sites to accommodate larger populations amid social distancing guidance still in effect as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Make provisions for your pets, as many shelters will not accept animals.
Ø If not ordered to evacuate and you decide to take shelter in your home, have your disaster kit ready. Keep your important papers with you or store them in the highest, safest place in your home, and in a waterproof container. Even if you seek shelter in place, you need to secure your home by locking the doors and windows. Turn off all utilities (gas, water, electric, etc.). Monitor the storm by portable radio to keep up with the latest information. Stay indoors. Try to stay in an inside room away from doors and windows.
Ø Use your phone sparingly. Make only essential calls and keep the calls brief. Report emergencies to 911. When reporting emergencies, identify yourself and your location, making sure to speak clearly and calmly. If you have a mobile telephone, make sure it is charged and ready to use at all times. Remember, however, that cell service may be interrupted during and after the storm.
Hurricanes and tropical storms can have devastating effects. In the event a hurricane affects our area, expect polluted water, limited communications, no electricity, overflowing or backed-up sewers, undermined foundations, beach erosion and heavy damage to homes and roadways.
Do not re-enter the area until recommended to do so by local authorities. As you re-enter the area, be aware of possible hazards such as downed trees and power lines. Be aware of debris and water on roadways. Upon re-entry, have identification and important legal papers ready to show officials proof of residency. Continue to use your emergency water supply or boil water until notified that the drinking water is safe. Take precautions to prevent fires.
For more information on preparing for hurricane season, including evacuation maps and preparedness brochures, visit Sussex County’s hurricane homepage at www.sussexcountyde.gov/hurricane-information, or the NOAA Weather Ready Nation homepage at www.weather.gov/wrn/.