Hurricane Irma Preparation
The National Hurricane Center is actively monitoring Irma, a catastrophic category 5 hurricane tracking north through the Caribbean islands towards Florida. As we keep all those affected in our prayers, we must also remember to take the proper steps to prepare for this storm. While it is too early to know the exact path or strength of this storm, dangerous winds, rain, swells, surfs and rip currents are expected in Eastern North Carolina. We must be ready.
FEMA’s Guide to Preparedness
Continue to monitor local radio or TV stations for the most up to date emergency information. The most important thing you can do is listen to state and local officials. If instructed to evacuate, evacuate.
- Update your disaster kit. Make sure to have a three-day supply of non-perishable food and bottled water, a battery-operated radio, a flashlight, extra batteries, cash, medicines, a first-aid kit, pet foods and important family documents.
- Know your evacuation routes/zones and prepare options for overnight lodging. Storm surge can sometimes cut off evacuation routes, so do not delay leaving if an evacuation is ordered for your area.
- Develop an emergency communication plan, which includes the telephone number of a family member or friend outside the area—a point of contact—in the event your family is separated when a storm hits.
- Download the FEMA mobile app for a customizable checklist of emergency supplies, maps of open shelters and recovery centers, disaster survival tips, and weather alerts from the National Weather Service. The app also enables users to receive push notifications reminding them to take important steps to prepare their homes and families for disasters.
- If you have a National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) flood policy, you may be eligible for reimbursement of actions taken to protect your property. Call your insurance agent to find out more.
- Storm surge is often the greatest threat to life and property from a tropical system. It poses a significant threat for drowning and can occur before, during, or after the center of a storm passes through an area. Storm surge can sometimes cut off evacuation routes, so do not delay leaving if an evacuation is ordered for your area.
- There is the potential for flooding with this storm. Driving through a flooded area can be extremely hazardous and almost half of all flash flood deaths happen in vehicles. When in your car, look out for flooding in low-lying areas, at bridges and at highway dips. As little as six inches of water may cause you to lose control of your vehicle. If you encounter floodwaters, remember – turn around, don’t drown.
Hurricane/Tropical Storm Terms and What They Mean
For a hurricane:
- A Hurricane Watch is issued when a tropical cyclone containing winds of at least 74 MPH poses a possible threat, generally within 48 hours.
- A Hurricane Warning is issued when sustained winds of 74 MPH or higher associated with a tropical cyclone are expected in 36 hours or less. A hurricane warning can remain in effect when dangerously high water or a combination of dangerously high water and exceptionally high waves continue, even though winds may be less than hurricane force.
For a tropical storm:
- A Tropical Storm Watch is issued when tropical cyclone containing winds of at least 39 MPH or higher poses a possible threat, generally within 48 hours.
- A Tropical Storm Warning is issued when sustained winds of 39 MPH or higher associated with a tropical cyclone are expected in 36 hours or less.
For coastal flooding:
- A Coastal Flood Watch is issued when moderate to major coastal flooding is possible.
- A Coastal Flood Warning is issued when moderate to major coastal flooding is occurring or imminent.
- A Coastal Flood Advisory is issued when minor or nuisance coastal flooding is occurring or imminent.
Questions or Concerns
As always, it is an honor to serve you. If you have a question or concern, please contact my Washington office at (202) 225-3415, or my Greenville office at (252) 931-1003. For further up-to-date information, please visit my Facebook page, follow my Twitter account, or like my Instagram.
Please stay safe.
Walter B. Jones
Member of Congress