The Atlantic Basin hurricane season officially began on 1st June and will end on 30th November. The worst hurricanes of the season usually occur between August and October. Hurricane Florence is the first major hurricane of the season, and rapidly intensified to a Category 4 Hurricane within a 13-hour time span. This rapid intensification is unprecedented for the United States coastal region and hasn’t occurred in the area for over a decade. Florence is expected to make landfall as a major hurricane on 13th September over Wilmington in North Carolina.
- Adhere to all official directives. Mandatory evacuations have already been implemented throughout coastal areas of both North and South Carolina. Additionally, the governors of North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland have declared a state of emergency ahead of the hurricane’s landfall. Operations will be disrupted throughout each state due to the anticipated adverse weather conditions; as such it is imperative that individuals in affected areas adhere to official directives prior to severe operational issues occurring.
- Stay abreast of local weather warnings and evacuation orders. Local news channels and social media pages will keep individuals in affected areas up to date with the storm’s developments. We advise affected individuals to check the National Hurricane Centre (NHC) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) hourly if possible as they give the most accurate information. The majority of counties within impacted areas have alert groups set up, prior to the storm making landfall, individuals should register for any alert groups for more localised information.
- Locate your nearest storm shelter. Numerous storm shelters have been opened in advance of the storm, if unsure of where the nearest shelter is, contact the local authorities for information on official emergency shelters. Preference should be given to locations away from coastal areas and on higher ground. There are storm shelters throughout several counties in each state, including South Carolina’s Horry, Georgetown and Florence counties.
- Have an emergency kit prepared. This kit should include food, water and supplies that could last up to seven days. There should be non-perishable food, flashlights, water, a secondary communication device, a first aid kit, prescription medications, hygiene products, copies of insurance papers and identification in a watertight bag, and cash in hand. Mobile phones should be fully charged at least six hours prior to a hurricane making landfall, along with battery-operated charging equipment.
- Plan in advance. Plan how to communicate with family members or friends in the event that power is lost. This could include a call, text, social media post or email. In the event of a disaster, a text message is usually more reliable and quicker than making a phone call as phone lines are often overloaded.
- Do not attempt to cross floodwaters. Individuals in affected areas will experience at the very least, localised flooding. Under no circumstances should an individual attempt to walk or swim across floodwaters due to the risk of downed power lines and fast flowing waters. Remember, it only takes six inches of fast-moving water to knock an individual off their feet, and twelve inches of moving water can sweep a vehicle off a road.