Hurricane Joaquin is on the way. As of this writing, it’s hammering the Bahamas and is expected to become a Category 4. It may or may not touch down in the US, but it will certainly bring some wind rain this coming weekend and maybe into next week.
North Carolina is no stranger to hurricanes, so whatever Joaquin decides to do, it behooves everyone from Wilmington to Winston-Salem, from Charlotte to Currituck, to be prepared for severe inclement weather. Here are five things you should be doing today to prepare for Hurricane Joaquin (and future hurricanes). For a recap of it all, check out the infographic at the bottom of the page.
Get Flood Insurance 30 Days Ago
Hurricanes are not just high winds, damaging enough though winds can be. Hurricanes also bring a torrential rain and storm surge, a rising of the sea. Together, these conditions often result in flooding, which tends to be even more damaging than the incredibly strong winds. Unfortunately, renter’s insurance and homeowner’s insurance do not cover floods; flood insurance must be bought separately.
Flood insurance must be purchased at least 30 days prior to the requested effective date (unless it’s for a loan closing), so if you don’t have flood insurance currently, see if you can borrow Doc Brown’s DeLorean, go back 30 days or more and get that done.
You can’t get it for Joaquin at this point, but if you click the red button at the top right of this website, we can help you with future hurricanes.
Document Your Stuff
This is somewhat related to having insurance. One of the best ways to do this is to go around your home with a video camera. There’s no excuse for anyone not to do this anymore, since even most people’s grandmas can take videos with their phones.
Don’t just document the state of your things, but also the condition of the house, inside and out. Get your walls, ceilings and floors so you can show they weren’t damaged before. Get your roof so you can show the insurance company that the tree that will be poking through your roof a few days form now wasn’t there before.
If you have particularly valuable items, you might want to keep their receipts in a separate, safer place. You might even want to consider getting separate insurance policies on your most valuable valuables.
Protect the Home
There’s a lot you can do to help minimize damage to your home during a hurricane. Put hurricane shutters or plywood over your windows. Here’s an extra tip: If you’re using plywood, pre-drill the holes so you can put the plywood up quickly in a pinch.
You can also add bolts to the top and bottom of your doors to help keep them secure. You can purchase hurricane straps to help keep your roof on the house.
Make sure you clear off your lawn, too. Put you tools and any lawn furniture inside or in a shed or make sure they are secured in some way. Hurricane winds can break these things or toss them around. You probably don’t want to see your lawnmower crash through your bay window.
Most importantly, make sure you and your family have agreed on a safe room in case it gets bad. This should be a windowless room to avoid the potential for shattered glass flying all over the place. Usually an interior bathroom or closet will do suffice.
For a worst case scenario, and it never hurts to plan for the worst, just in case, you’ll want to make sure you have enough supplies for two weeks. If a hurricane is particularly bad, you could be stranded without access to food, electricity or fuel for a while. Here’s a list of things you should have.
- Water. Bottled water is best in order to avoid contamination. It’s not a bad idea to fill up bathtubs and sinks for extra supply.
- Non-perishable food, like canned goods. Don’t forget to have a manual can opener as well if you want to be able to eat those canned goods. Forks, or at least sporks, would be nice to have too.
- A first aid kit.
- Medicine and prescription drugs. Don’t forget to make sure you’ve got your glasses, too.
- Battery powered flashlights and a radio. And don’t forget the extra batteries.
- Hygienic items like TP and toothpaste.
- Blankets or sleeping bags and pillows. This might sound superfluous, but it’s better to have these than not.
- Any special items needed for small kids or older folks.
While we’re on the matter of gathering things, you should also make sure you’ve got your important documents in a safe place. This includes IDs like driver’s licenses and Social Security cards, property deeds, stocks and bonds, wills and deeds and any other important documents you might have.
Listen to the Authorities
Watch the news and listen to alerts on the radio so you can get an idea of what to expect.
Very importantly, if you’re advised to leave the area, you should probably leave the area. People have a lot of reasons for not evacuating, but if you can, you should. If things do go bad in a hurricane, services could be down for days or even weeks. In addition to wind and water damage from a hurricane, disease tends to be rampant in the aftermath of a big disaster, and the more people FEMA has to rescue, the more difficult the recovery effort will be.
Here’s a snazzy little infographic to help you out.