How to Prepare for and Recover from Hurricanes

This year’s hurricane season serves as a stark reminder of the danger posed by Mother Nature. While Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Harvey have dominated headlines for their recent impacts on the southernmost U.S., more severe weather is expected before the upcoming winter months. Given the prevalence of large-scale storms over the past few years, many are basing their preparation and recovery efforts on traditional strategies as well as some brand new tricks.

The Preparation Phase

Making preparations before a storm’s arrival is the most effective way of minimizing the potential for damage. Since the majority of severe weather events are trackable with modern radar technology, you’ll likely have plenty of time to prepare.

• Plan your evacuation route. Some storms are so severe that residents are urged and, in some cases, required, to evacuate their homes and communities. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with any publicized evacuation routes before receiving notice.


• Organize your supplies. If you aren’t under a mandatory evacuation, it’s critical that your supplies are fresh and accessible. Stocking up on supplies is best done throughout the year and in the months leading up to hurricane season, but last-minute essentials are purchasable in the weeks, days and hours leading up to an event.

• Safeguard your home. Once you have a clear understanding of any evacuation plans and easy access to your supplies, it’s time to begin safeguarding your home for the impending storm. Boarding up windows, sealing leaky roofs or windows and putting away your lawn ornaments are all basic tips. You might also consider reinforcing your garage door, installing roof straps to your home and reviewing your insurance policies.

As effective as these tips are, it’s impossible to plan for the whims of Mother Nature. In extreme scenarios, your only option might involve proceeding with recovery and rebuilding efforts.


The Recovery Phase

Depending on the size and scale of the storm, recovery might last hours, days, weeks or even months. While it takes little effort to repair a broken window or repair minor roof damage, those who experience the most damage might face an entire rebuild.

• Assess the damage. Whether you’re returning home from an evacuation or emerging from a secure shelter, now is the time to assess the extent of the devastation. Some hazards might still be present, including downed power lines, toxic building materials and unstable buildings, so it’s important to take caution when exploring an impacted neighborhood.

• Rebuild and recover. Only after you’ve properly assessed the damage can you begin to rebuild and recover. Keep in mind that your local home improvement stores might experience shortages in materials, so this could hamper your efforts even further. You can minimize this effect by purchasing some replacement materials ahead of time. Modular homes, which are buildable in less than 30 days and durable enough to withstand high winds and flooding, are popular for supporting recovery efforts across the nation. 

• In some cases, your neighborhood might receive state or federal assistance. This is typically reserved for the largest and most devastating hurricanes, but smaller storms sometimes warrant funding, too. Some experts already predict that the recovery for Hurricane Harvey alone could top $180 billion.

Your exact recovery phase ultimately depends on the extent of the devastation. If you’re one of the lucky ones who avoided serious damage, consider lending a helping hand to one of your neighborhoods – they’ll certainly appreciate it.

Plan for the Unexpected and Mitigate Your Risks

Creating a foolproof plan to counteract a hurricane requires the ability to control the weather or predict the future. Barring either of these sci-fi traits, your only option is to utilize the information you have and plan according to the latest weather forecasts. Planning for a severe weather incident is never straightforward, but your diligence in the initial preparation phase can go a long way in making your recovery efforts a little more bearable.

Bio:

Emily Folk is a freelance writer and blogger from Lancaster, PA. She covers topics in conservation, sustainability and renewable energy. To see her latest posts, check out her blog Conservation Folks, or follow her on Twitter!

4 Ways to Prepare Your Family for a Natural Disaster

Disaster can strike anywhere — and it doesn’t care who you are or where you live. That’s why you need to be prepared, because you never know when the force of a natural disaster will impact your life. Today, while the natural disasters we experience may not be a direct result of climate change, it's very likely global warming will be the culprit of future weather-related events, according to NASA.

Global warming can strengthen hurricanes, as warmer sea temperatures and more heat in the atmosphere only increases the wind speeds of these sometimes catastrophic weather phenomenons. Increased risks of global warming can also usher in the risk of drought, intense storms and flooding as sea levels rise.

While you can’t prevent these catastrophes on your own, you can work to better prepare yourself against the inevitable. Here are four ways you can better prepare yourself if a natural disaster strikes near your home or community.

1. Identify Your Risks

Take the first step to prepare for a natural disaster by identifying your risks. Where should you start? Truthfully, you should know the most common hazards in your community, as understanding these potential risks can help you glean greater focus on your disaster plan. Then, ask yourself the following:

  • Do you live in a flood zone?
  • Do tornadoes frequent the region?
  • What will you do in the case of a severe earthquake?

You need to have answers to these questions to formulate your disaster plans. Get started with a helpful online resource like the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes’ natural disaster risk map to determine which disasters pose the greatest threat to your state.

2. Create an Emergency Kit

When disaster strikes, you need to move — and be super quick about it. Indeed, there won't be time to grab much of — or any — belongings or family keepsakes. But that doesn't mean you should leave your home empty handed. Instead, according to information provided on Ready.gov, every home should have a basic emergency kit that includes:

  • Water and food
  • Batteries
  • Flashlights
  • First-aid kits
  • Whistles to signal distress
  • Cellphones with an accompanying charger
  • Cash

3. Be Mindful of Your Inventory

A natural disaster can destroy entire homes and communities. And while documenting everything of value in your home may seem tedious and monotonous, it can pay off and help you get back to your everyday routine after a disaster strikes, as proper documentation will ensure fair insurance reimbursement. Additionally, your inventory documentation will make the recovery process more simple and be a big help when you need to apply for federal disaster aid. It's also wise to check your home and car insurance policies to confirm your coverage before any major catastrophe strikes.

4. Practice Your Plan

There’s more to emergency preparedness than checking over your home. You’ll need to think about your car, too. How will you escape disaster? Is your vehicle suited for disaster conditions? Can you car’s tires stand up to difficult terrain?

Routine maintenance can keep your car or SUV operating efficiently so that changing a flat tire when disaster strikes will be the least of your worries. For example, TireBuyer.com offers a number of tire options, including the Falken Wildpeak H/T, from reputable retailers across the country. This way, you don’t have to lift a finger if your sedan or SUV needs a new set.

After ensuring your vehicle is in optimal condition, run through your emergency plan with your entire family. Focus on communication, speed and checking off each item on your checklist, which should include everything from switching off the utilities to grabbing your emergency kit before leaving your home.