By CHHS Extern Alison Venable
National Preparedness Month Kicks Off with a Bang as Southeastern States Prepare for Hurricane Florence.
The theme for National Preparedness Month this year is “Disasters Happen. Prepare Now. Learn How.” This matter-of-fact message could not be more aptly timed as Southeastern States prepare for one of the strongest hurricanes to make landfall in the region since 2004.
Meteorologists are still refining the route Florence will take and which areas will feel the largest impact, but it is likely that whichever direction the Category 4 storm heads, Maryland will feel the effects. As of this morning, Tuesday September 11, Florence is expected to make landfall late Thursday night or early Friday morning. However, residents could experience the rise in coastal sea levels, increasingly high winds, and rough surf as early as Thursday morning.
According to the National Hurricane Center, Florence will either hit the Southeastern Coast and move inland, or she could turn and take route through the Chesapeake Bay. Either way, Marylanders should expect high winds, heavy rain, flooding, and potential storm surges. Governors for North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia have already declared a state of emergency and individuals are urged to watch the progression of the storm very closely. Governor Hogan declared a state of emergency in Maryland Monday afternoon as a proactive measure to insure resources could be appropriately allocated throughout the course of the hurricane. An emergency declaration serves as a tool to indicate to the public that they should be on alert, but also allows Governor Hogan to allocate resources in the best way to address the emergency. What this means for Maryland is that the shelters are on standby, utility crews are preparing for outages, and state highway crews are mobilized. Individuals can follow trajectory of the storm online here.
Meteorologists expect that Maryland could receive upwards of three to five inches of rain throughout the coming weekend. This influx of rain will be particularly dangerous in areas of Maryland where streams and rivers are already over capacity from rainstorms earlier this month. Some areas of Southern and Central Maryland have already experienced flooding this past weekend which will be further exacerbated by Florence.
Communities along the Eastern Shore and the Chesapeake Bay are also at an increased risk of storm surges once Florence makes landfall. There is an indication that the hurricane will stall over the Mid-Atlantic region creating prolonged rain exposure. Several reports state that Florence will become slow moving once it makes landfall, which will only increase the amount of rain dumped on the Carolinas, Virginia and Maryland.
This summer, Marylanders have become familiar with excessive rainstorms. After the record breaking 20+ inches of rain that hit parts of Maryland in May, people may think they are prepared for the impacts of any major storm. However, as Hurricane Florence approaches the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic regions it is imperative that Marylanders act with caution and revisit their emergency preparedness plans.
Five things you can do right now to prepare for Hurricane Florence:
- Create a Disaster Kit. Stock up on food, blankets, flashlights, and water (good rule of thumb would be two gallons per person, per day for three days). Make sure all necessary electronics and power back-ups are charged. The Red Cross has created short quiz to help individuals evaluate their emergency supply kits. Don’t forget about your pets!
- Prepare for flooding. Place important items in waterproof containers and remove as much as possible from basements and ground level rooms susceptible to flooding. Compile information on your flood insurance and important family documents.
- Know your plan. Familiarize yourself with your evacuation route and establish a plan of action in case you need to evacuate or shelter in place. Ask about emergency plans at work and/or school.
- Prepare your building. Rid the land surrounding your home or office of any debris, lawn furniture, toys, etc. that could be blown around in a storm. If possible clean out your rain gutters.
- Communicate. Discuss emergency plans with family, friends, and neighbors to make sure everyone is familiar with your emergency plans.
For more information on preparing for a Hurricane, see https://www.ready.gov/hurricanes.