It is too soon to know if Hurricane Irma will head our way according to the National Hurricane Center, but as it spins formidably in the Atlantic, several in the Lowcountry are keeping an anxious eye on it, worried about what to do if it does.
Fortunately, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has teamed up with the National Weather Service in Charleston to create a guide to hurricane hazards and preparedness tailored specifically to southeastern South Carolina and Georgia.
The guide explains the hazards of a hurricane, such as storm surge, heavy rain, flooding, tornadoes and high winds in depth, giving the science behind them and why they are so dangerous. It also provides helpful links to everything from storm surge maps to information on flood insurance.
You can also learn what you’ll need to do to get ready as a hurricane approaches, from learning your evacuation route and zone, to what you’ll need in your disaster kit, to making sure your pets are safe.
The differences between watches and warnings are explained, as is what to do in the event of each. The guide also covers what needs to happen if you choose to shelter in place or evacuate.
Hurricane season is currently at its peak, so being informed and ready is important regardless of where Irma ultimately ends up, according to NHC spokesman Dennis Feltgen.
“The last thing you want is to be doing this on the fly if you happen to be in an area where hurricane watches or warnings go up,” said Feltgen. “Not that we expect that to happen any time soon, but use this weekend, when stores are open and everyone has supplies, to take advantage of that.”
What to do if you choose to shelter in place during a hurricane
▪ Be sure you are not vulnerable to storm surge flooding.
▪ Ready your disaster supply kit.
▪ Turn your refrigerator/freezer to their coldest settings and keep closed as much as possible.
▪ Cover windows/doors and store unsecured outdoor items.
▪ Fill bathtubs and large containers with water for cleaning/flushing purposes in case clean tap water becomes unavailable (at least 1 gallon per person per day for 3 days).
▪ Inspect/secure mobile home tie downs.
▪ If power is lost, turn off major appliances to reduce power “surge” when electricity is restored.
What to do if you decide to evacuate during a hurricane
▪ Rush protective actions to completion.
▪ Evacuate as soon as possible, especially if advised to do so by authorities.
▪ Notify friends/family of where you are going.
▪ Take your disaster supply kit with you.
▪ Unplug appliances and turn off electricity/main water valve.
- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/The National Weather Service, Charleston