By Ashley Hamm | Every year, at the beginning of June, my dad asks me the same question: “If there’s a hurricane this year, what are your plans?” It’s a question he has asked everyone in our family for as long as I can remember.
As a native Beaufortonian, I’m no stranger to tropical depressions, storms and hurricanes. After weathering a few of these over the years, and a HUGE one last October, I have learned the importance of having a plan well in place by June, the beginning of hurricane season in the Atlantic.
While the season runs from June 1st through November 30th, the height of the season occurs between August and October with some of the most devastating storms having made landfall in both August and September.
With Matthew slamming Beaufort last October, we’re all going to be on guard and the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season is forecast to be more active than historical averages with regards to the number of named storms and hurricanes, according to a forecast released last week by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration.
Because dad is always right, of course I have a plan in place. You should too.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when formulating your hurricane preparedness plan:
1. Communicate with family. If evacuation is not mandatory, will you go voluntarily? Will you all evacuate to the same place? If you travel to different places, how will you keep in contact if phone lines and internet are down? Make that plan in advance. Have every family member tell each other where they plan to be.
2. Create an emergency kit. Some items to include are: first aid kit, blankets, battery-operated radio, flashlight, batteries, bottled water and non-perishable food items, important documents, such as photographs, proof of residence, medical information, bank account records, insurance policies, and identification and tax records. Keep photographs and important documents in a waterproof, portable container. Remember to keep prescriptions filled in case you have to evacuate quickly.
Boiled peanuts are perishable. In case you didn’t know.
3. Double-check with your homeowner’s insurance that you have adequate coverage for wind and flood damage. Flood insurance is required in certain zones throughout Beaufort, so make sure your policy is up-to-date.
4. Keep up with your vehicle maintenance. Oil changes, good tires and a full tank of gas are invaluable during an evacuation, when you can easily be on the road for a full day and gas stations along the way will have lines to wait in. Nobody likes to wait.
5. Plan ahead and choose your spot. The earlier you book a room, the more likely you are to get one, as rooms inland fill up very quickly. (Yes, firsthand experience with that one.)
When choosing your evacuation spot, keep in mind that a three-hour drive can easily turn into a six-hour drive, or longer as we found out evacuating for Matthew, when an evacuation is in place. Plan for at least twice the car time and pack accordingly.
For information on emergency plans, visit the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Department on Facebook, and the South Carolina Emergency Management Division, here.