With Hurricane Florence headed toward the East Coast and other tropical storms and hurricanes brewing, groups are looking to help businesses and residents prepare.
In May, forecasters from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicted five to nine Atlantic hurricanes this year—one to four of which could be Category 3 or higher. Now, with Hurricane Florence only days away from hitting the East Coast as a predicted Category 4 storm and forcing 1 million in its projected path to evacuate, there’s much to be done to help businesses and communities batten down the hatches.
The good news: a flurry of organizations are aiding communities in their preparation for Hurricane Florence and other named storms with emergency supplies, evacuation plans, hurricane insurance, and more.
Shipping Supplies to Vulnerable Communities
Ahead of the hurricane season, Direct Relief, a nonprofit that delivers lifesaving medical resources worldwide, prepositioned packs of emergency medicine and medical supplies in locations serving high-risk areas along the coast, which can be opened by health centers should they be needed.
With Hurricane Florence predicted to make landfall Thursday, Direct Relief has offered support to more than 200 healthcare partners in the storm’s projected path to coordinate potential relief efforts. Each pack has supplies to treat 100 people for three to five days and contains a range of items, including antibiotics, pain relievers, inhalers, behavioral health medications, first-aid supplies, and medications for chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension, according to the nonprofit.
It has delivered the packs for free since 2007, thanks to a relationship with FedEx.
Getting Families and Pets Ready
To ensure that residents are prepared for Hurricane Florence, the Water Quality Association (WQA) issued a news release this week with five things people need to know about drinking water during flooding.
“Our main concern is for possible drinking water contamination,” said Executive Director Pauli Undesser in the statement.
According to WQA, East Coast residents should be working now to ensure they will have an adequate drinking water supply during the storm and follow the general rule of thumb: Have one gallon of drinking water per day for each individual in a home.
In addition, authorities and other groups recommend that residents preparing for a hurricane have several days of food for each family member, along with food for pets.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, a pet evacuation kit should include at least three days’ worth of food, seven days of water, a two-week supply of medicine, and food and water bowls, among other items.
“We always need to be prepared to take care of our animals, especially during disasters such as fire, flood, or other emergencies,” said AVMA on its website. “In cases of fire or natural disasters, you need to be prepared in case your pet gets injured, lost, or has to be evacuated.”
Keeping Communities in the Know
To help keep communities informed on when a storm may arrive or how vulnerable they may be, NOAA’s National Hurricane Center is providing a suite of new forecast and communication tools this season.
For example. a new polar-orbiting satellite will gather high-resolution data from around the globe to feed NOAA’s weather models, driving the three- to seven-day weather forecast that is critical to preparedness and effective evacuations.
In addition, the National Hurricane Center’s Arrival Time of Tropical-Storm-Force Winds graphics [PDF] displays key information in two maps. The first displays the “earliest reasonable” arrival time of tropical-storm-force winds, at which point further preparedness activities could be hindered. A second graphic displays the winds’ “most likely” arrival time.
“Preparing ahead of a disaster is the responsibility of all levels of government, the private sector and the public,” said acting FEMA Deputy Administrator Daniel Kaniewski in a statement just before the hurricane season began June 1. “It only takes one storm to devastate a community, so now is the time to prepare. Do you have adequate insurance, including flood insurance? Does your family have a communication and evacuation plan? Stay tuned to your local news and download the FEMA app to get alerts, and make sure you heed any warnings issued by local officials.”