As if consulting her calendar, Mother Nature unleashed the fury of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma during the peak of 2017 hurricane season. As Harvey slammed the Texas Gulf Coast near Rockport, band after band of tropical moisture dumped a record level of five feet of rain that flooded Houston. A week later, Irma wreaked havoc on the entire Florida peninsula, devastating the Keys, flooding low-lying areas, and leaving thousands without power. If you live on the Gulf Coast, it’s not a question of if a hurricane will hit your region, but when. While you’re powerless to change the path of a tropical storm, you can put your safety first by gathering emergency supplies and following state and local evacuation orders that remove you from the eye of the storm.
How to Prepare Your Home Before EvacuatingPinpointing the exact path of a hurricane is not an exact science. Weather forecasters rely on a system of computer models and satellite imagery to project the path, but any number of changing atmospheric conditions can affect the size, strength, and direction of a tropical storm. Because of this uncertainty, many people believe the worst of the storm will pass them by or they can “ride it out” in their homes. Staying put can leave you at the mercy of a brutal storm and disconnect you from safe travel routes and the aid of first responders. If you live in the path of the storm, fema.gov recommends taking the following steps before evacuating your home:
- Contact nearby relatives and decide where to meet.
- Learn your evacuation route and listen to authorities for timelines and changes.
- Unplug electronics and move them to a higher elevation.
- Make an inventory of your home’s contents for insurance purposes.
- Pack valuables, keepsakes, and insurance policies inside your vehicle.
- Turn the power off at the main breaker before leaving your home.
Tips for a Successful Hurricane EvacuationKnowing your evacuation zone and transportation route is of utmost importance during a hurricane evacuation. Listen to updates from local authorities for the latest information regarding your route. If you happen to live in an area where evacuation is not mandatory, consider leaving anyway if you live in a mobile home, on the coastline, in a flood plain, or on an island. If evacuation is mandatory, leave as soon as possible. Follow these steps to make your trek as easy as possible:
- Fill up your gas tank.
- Have adequate cash on hand.
- Pack an emergency supply kit that includes prescription medication, clothes, drinking water, non-perishable food, and more.
- Make a list of emergency shelters if you can’t reach your intended destination.