Hurricane Preparedness, North Carolina Style

”]”]The first real threat of the 2011 hurricane season is upon us, and her name is Irene. Hurricane Irene battered the Bahamas earlier this week, and now this Category 3 storm is heading toward the North Carolina coast.

Today, Governor Bev Perdue declared a state of emergency for the counties east of Interstate 95. According to an article in the News & Observer, there is now a mandatory visitor and coastal residents in place, and shelters have opened inland in advance of Saturday, when forecasters predict Irene will make landfall.

“There will be an impact on Eastern North Carolina,” Bill Read, the National Hurricane Center director, told reporters in a teleconference this morning. “The storm will maintain hurricane force winds of 115 mph as it approaches the coast of North Carolina Saturday morning.”


According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region 6 Administrator Tony Russell: “Everyone should put together an emergency kit, create a family plan and stay informed.”


You may need to survive on your own after an emergency. This means having your own food, water, and other supplies in sufficient quantity to last for at least three days. Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster, but they cannot reach everyone immediately. You could get help in hours, or it might take days. In addition, basic services such as electricity, gas, water, sewage treatment, and telephones may be cut off for days, or even a week or longer. According to FEMA, recommended items to include in a basic emergency supply kit include:

  • WATER: one gallon per person per day for at least three days. You’ll need this for drinking, washing, cooking, and possibly sanitation. If you have a well, you may want to stock a little more because if electricity is knocked out, your well won’t function either.
  • FOOD: at least a three-day supply of nonperishable food. For examples, click here: Food
  • RADIO: battery-powered or hand-crank only (in case there’s no electricity)
  • FLASHLIGHT, and extra batteries
  • FIRST AID KIT (click to see what to include in the kit)
  • WHISTLE or air-horn, to signal for help
  • DUST MASK, to filter contaminated air
  • MOIST TOWELETTES, garbage bags and plastic ties (for personal sanitation, in case toilets don’t flush)
  • TOOLS: wrench or pliers to turn off utilities if necessary
  • CELL PHONE:  with chargers (if electricity is available), or an inverter or solar charger

Additional items that may be necessary or helpful:

  • Prescription medications and glasses
  • Infant formula and diapers
  • Pet food and extra water for your pet
  • Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container
  • Cash or traveler’s checks and change
  • Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container. You can use the Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (EFFAK)) developed by Operation Hope, FEMA and Citizen Corps to help you organize your information.
  • Emergency reference material such as a first aid book or information from
  • Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person. Consider additional bedding if you live in a cold-weather climate.
  • Complete change of clothing including a long sleeved shirt, long pants and sturdy shoes. Consider additional clothing if you live in a cold-weather climate.
  • Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper – When diluted nine parts water to one part bleach, bleach can be used as a disinfectant. Or in an emergency, you can use it to treat water by using 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.
  • Fire Extinguisher
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
  • Mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils, paper towels
  • Paper and pencil
  • Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children


Those in hurricane-prone areas are urged to prepare now for what you will do during and after a hurricane:

  • Before a hurricane
    • Prepare an evacuation kit, with the items listed above.
    • Secure any important papers in a waterproof container.
    • Fill your vehicle’s tank up with gas.
    • Get any necessary prescription medications refilled.
    • Have enough cash on hand to last for several days.
    • Make sure you have enough extra food and water for your pet.
    • Make plans to secure your property. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection.
    • Install straps or additional clips to securely fasten your roof to the frame structure.
    • Be sure trees and shrubs around your home are well-trimmed.
    • Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts.
  • Prepare the family
    • Identify an out-of-town contact, someone outside of the hurricane zone. If your family gets separated, this is someone who can field your calls and keep communication ties. (If the hurricane knocks out local phone or cell service, it may be difficult to call others in the hurricane zone.) Make sure every family member knows the phone number of the contact.
    • Teach family members how to use text messaging (also knows as SMS or Short Message Service). Text messages can often get around network disruptions when a phone call might not be able to get through.
    • Subscribe to alert services. Many communities now have systems that will send instant text alerts or e-mails to let you know about bad weather, road closings, local emergencies, etc. Sign up by visiting your local Office of Emergency Management web site.
  • During a hurricane
    • Listen to the radio or TV for information, or follow the news on the Internet.
    • Secure your home, close storm shutters and secure outdoor objects or bring them indoors.
    • Turn off utilities if instructed to do so.
    • Ensure a supply of water for sanitary purposes such as cleaning and flushing toilets. Fill a bathtub with water that can be used for those purposes.
    • If you are directed by local authorities to evacuate, be sure to follow their instructions.
    • Stay indoors during the hurricane and away from windows and glass doors. Hurricanes are more than just rain…they are very high winds, as well. The danger comes from the wind itself, as well as items picked up and thrown by the wind. Debris (such as signs, fallen tree limbs, small items) can become flying missiles.


Hurricanes are classified into five categories based on their wind speed, central pressure, and damage potential. Category Three and higher hurricanes are considered major hurricanes, though Categories One and Two are still extremely dangerous and warrant your full attention. From FEMA:

Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale

Scale Number (Category) Sustained Winds (MPH) Damage
1 74-95 Very dangerous winds will produce some damage

  • Minor damage to exterior of homes
  • Toppled tree branches, uprooting of smaller trees
  • Extensive damage to power lines, power outages
2 96-110 Extremely dangerous winds will cause extensive damage

  • Major damage to exterior of homes
  • Uprooting of small trees and many roads blocked
  • Guaranteed power outages for long periods of time – days to weeks
3 111-130 Devastating damage will occur

  • Extensive damage to exterior of homes
  • Many trees uprooted and many roads blocked
  • Extremely limited availability of water and electricity
4 131-155 Catastrophic damage will occur

  • Loss of roof structure and/or some exterior walls
  • Most trees uprooted and most power lines down
  • Isolated residential due to debris pile up
  • Power outages lasting for weeks to months
5 More than 155 Catastrophic damage will occur

  • A high percentage of homes will be destroyed
  • Fallen trees and power lines isolate residential areas
  • Power outages lasting for weeks to months
  • Most areas will be uninhabitable

Once you are prepared for the worst of the hurricane season, you can sit back and enjoy the rest of this summer season!

To read more about how to prepare, plan, and stay informed, check out all the information available on

To read the full article in the News & Observer, click here:

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Raleigh Office

3110 Edwards Mill Rd Suite 100,
Raleigh, NC 27612
P (919) 781-1107
F (919) 781-8048

Rocky Mount Office

2317 Sunset Ave,
Rocky Mount, NC 27804
P (252) 443-2111
F (252) 443-9429

Jacksonville Office

Appointment Only
P (910) 377-7671
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