Frequently Asked Questions:
WHAT IS A HURRICANE?
A hurricane is a tropical storm that has rotating winds of at least 73 mph, but rarely exceeding 150 mph. Hurricanes are usually accompanied by rain, thunder and lightning. These severe storms, which are spawned by low-pressure depressions moving over warm, tropical waters, originate in the Atlantic Ocean from June to October. In an average year, approximately six Atlantic tropical storms mature into hurricanes. (Hurricanes that originate in the Pacific Ocean are referred to as typhoons.)
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A HURRICANE MAKES LANDFALL?
Once a hurricane hits land, it loses contact with its primary source of energy, the warm ocean waters, and begins to slow down. As the hurricane passes over land, increased friction contributes to the break-up of the storm. The greatest threat posed from a hurricane is from the heavy rainfall and from flooding caused by the storm surge. However, hurricane-force winds and flying debris can cause extensive damage until they dissipate. Hurricanes can also spawn tornadoes that are extremely dangerous and that contribute to the overall damage.
Hurricanes can cause catastrophic damage and potentially large losses of life. In recent years, the death toll from hurricanes has been greatly diminished by timely warnings of approaching storms and by improved programs of public awareness. At the same time, losses from hurricane-related property damage in the United States continue to climb; this is primarily due to an increase in population and construction.
BEFORE A HURRICANE
At the beginning of the hurricane season:
• Establish a preparedness plan that takes prevention, emergencies and communication into consideration.
• Inspect all battery powered equipment and backup power.
• Be sure trees and shrubs around your home are well trimmed so they are more wind resistant.
• Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts.
• Inspect sewers and drains.
• Check all drainage pumps.
• Inspect the roof and flashing for serviceability.
• Check the landscaping; prune dead branches.
• Have a supply of plastic or tarpaulins on hand to cover water-sensitive equipment.
AT THE APPROACH OF A HURRICANE
• Inspect roof drains and piping; are they clear of debris and fully functional?
• Check floor drains and sump-pump; are they clear of debris and fully functional?
• Check all storm water catch basins and grates to be sure they are clear of debris.
• Top off fuel in the emergency generator; test run.
• Move supplies stored outside to inside storage.
• Protect vital records against flooding.
DURING A HURRICANE
• Listen to the radio or TV for information.
• Turn off propane tanks.
• Avoid using the phone, except for serious emergencies.
• Stay indoors during the hurricane and away from windows and glass doors.
• Close all interior doors – secure and brace external doors.
• Take refuge in a small interior room, closet or hallway on the lowest level.
• Lie on floor under a table or another sturdy object.
• Avoid elevators.
AFTER A HURRICANE
• Assess the damage.
• Check for safety hazards (downed trees, branches, downed power wires, leaking gas, blocked roof drains, displaced reptiles).
• Make temporary repairs to protect the structure and supplies.
• Photograph and document any damage.
• Drive only if necessary and avoid flooded roads and washed out bridges. Stay off the streets.