The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ( NOAA) has included among its top information pieces an update on the likelihood of hurricane development during the remainder of the hurricane season. According to this division of the U. S. Department of Commerce, while the hurricane season officially lasts from June 1-Nov.1 the chance for hurricanes definitely expands during the months of August, September and October. Its climate predication center has indicated that during those months it is likely that in 2007 there is an 85% chance for Atlantic coastal communities to experience an above normal hurricane season. This would mean there would most like be 13-16 named storms , 7-9 hurricanes and 3-5 major Category 3 or higher hurricanes. The City of Charleston, South Carolina recognizes its vulnerable position and has taken steps through its Charleston County, South Carolina website to issue a very extensive list of hurricane suggestions in its 2007 Hurricane Guide.
Before the Storm.
Very wisely, those who produce the Charleston County, Charleston, S. C. Guide have tried to make it clear that preparation is best done in stages and that there are a lot of things that coastal dwellers can do well in advance of any storm to help them to survive and minimize damage during the hurricane season.
Among those earliest preparations it is wise to investigate your need for flood insurance by speaking with a representative of National Flood Insurance Program. What some home owners may not recognize is that lots of flood insurance programs require a 30 day waiting period before your insurance will become effective. Waiting until you hear about a hurricane on the weather channel and then attempting to get the coverage you need is not the way to go.
The Charleston County, South Carolina, Guide suggests that families work out a communication plan suitable for all family members. During a hurricane disaster it is possible that family members may get separated . Having a contact person who lives out of state and away from the disaster area may give everyone in the family a single person to contact and use to relay messages to other family members.
All family members should be prepared in the case of a hurricane to know how to turn off all utilities and to call 911 and furnish helpful rescue information. Children and adults should be clear about what radio stations will provide emergency weather and evacuation information.
The family can work together to assemble an emergency supply kit . When you think through what you will need in your kit remember it could be three days or more that you will be forced to go without power and other services. This means that your kit will need to include non perishable food and water sufficient for your family for three days minimum.
When a Storm Watch Is Issued.
When a hurricane is approaching Charleston, South Carolina the first official directive residents will hear is that there is in effect a “Hurricane Watch” . These catch words are given to indicate the time frame that citizens have to consider as they make final preparations for a storm to touch down. The designation “watch” tells families that they have between 24-36 hours before the hurricane arrives. Within that time it is of course possible for unstable hurricanes to re-track in an unpredictable way making serious storm damage unlikely. But with a maximum of 36 hours remaining the Charleston County, South Carolina Hurricane Guide for 2007 strongly suggests that final preparations to greet a full blown hurricane be taken promptly.
It’s important before the winds start howling and the rain begins coming down by the inch that you make a final review with your family of what steps may be necessary, review plans for evacuation should that become a necessary option and recheck your Emergency Kit. You still have a few hours to make last minute efforts to refill prescriptions and fill up your gas tank.
When a storm “watch” is issued there is enough likelihood that you will have some level of storm to deal with that it is time to bring in all loose objects from outside your home. Anything too large or heavy to move should be securely anchored so that it will not become a projectile during the storm.
Now is also the time to fill jugs, bottles and the Guide suggests even clean bathtubs with clean drinking water. Put your refrigerator and freezer on the highest setting to allow your refrigerator the maximum cold time even after power goes out.
Among the most important things to do during this anticipatory time is to keep yourself well informed. Hurricanes are very changeable in their direction and in their strength. Knowing that a hurricane has veered towards Charleston and has picked up velocity and heavy rains is crucial information. Keep tuned to local weather stations until the danger has passed.
A “Hurricane Warning ” for Charleston, South Carolina is considerably more serious than a “Watch”. The designation of “warning” means you have no more than 24 hours to prepare for a hurricane to hit in Charleston. With fewer hours left before the storm comes ashore there is less time remaining for the hurricane to alter course or for the city to escape the brunt of the storm.
The Charleston County, South Carolina Hurricane Guide for 2007 explains that this is the time to take final preparation to protect your family and your property. It is wise to keep your radio or television on while power is still up to keep yourself informed about the storms approach but also at this point to hear calls for evacuation and suggested routes.
While you still have a few hours and now that it seems likely that the storm will hit the city you should store all your valuables like jewelry or official papers in a water tight container to avoid damage. It’s also a good time to move your car to a sheltered area or to high ground. Begin to move everyone away from glass windows or skylights and set flashlights where they can be easily found and used instead of candles
Residents should remember if power is lost it is a good idea to turn off all electrical appliances so that when power is restored there will not be surge. Most important is the realization that this is now a dangerous situation so if you are asked to evacuate your home, you should do so according to plan and move to the suggested shelters.
Charleston County has made extensive preparations to deal with the hurricanes they hope will never come. Residents or visitors can discover additional helpful information about survival kits , home preparations, evacuation routes and shelter locations by seeking the county website at www.charlestoncounty.org