Hurricane season for the Atlantic Ocean runs from June 1st to November 30th with a sharp peak in activity from late August through September. It was precisely this time period that Hurricane Katrina descended upon the gulf causing a still unknown number of deaths and over 108 billion dollars of damage. The resulting chaos and horror shocked and moved millions of people to lend assistance in the aftermath of this tragedy. After the storm left and the cleanup process began, millions more began to make preparations for themselves so they wouldn’t be faced with some of the tragedy the victims in the gulf had to live with.
Ten years later, the effects of Katrina still linger. The towns impacted are still not completely restored and may never be as they once were. The anniversary and season should be an opportunity for anyone who lives in areas prone to hurricanes to reflect on their preparations and make sure they have what is needed should a hurricane be forecast in the future. The list below isn’t exhaustive but I think it covers most of the bases that a good hurricane survival guide should account for. If you have taken care of the items below you will be much better off than many who survived hurricane Katrina. This list could end up saving some lives.
The decision to stay or evacuate needs to be evaluated early and often. At a certain point in the storm you will not be able to leave. Deciding quickly and before the storm is too near, based upon your circumstances and the forecast from the weather experts is best.
The strength of a storm is one indicator of the severity of damage you can expect. The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale is what is used to define and classify hurricane strength.
Category 1 Hurricane – Sustained Winds 74-95 MPH
Very dangerous winds will produce some damage: Well-constructed frame homes could have damage to roof, shingles, vinyl siding and gutters. Large branches of trees will snap and shallowly rooted trees may be toppled. Extensive damage to power lines and poles likely will result in power outages that could last a few to several days.
Category 2 Hurricane – Sustained Winds 96-110 MPH
Extremely dangerous winds will cause extensive damage: Well-constructed frame homes could sustain major roof and siding damage. Many shallowly rooted trees will be snapped or uprooted and block numerous roads. Near-total power loss is expected with outages that could last from several days to weeks.
Category 3 Hurricane – Sustained Winds 111-129 MPH
Devastating damage will occur: Well-built framed homes may incur major damage or removal of roof decking and gable ends. Many trees will be snapped or uprooted, blocking numerous roads. Electricity and water will be unavailable for several days to weeks after the storm passes.
Category 4 Hurricane – Sustained Winds 130-156 MPH
Catastrophic damage will occur: Well-built framed homes can sustain severe damage with loss of most of the roof structure and/or some exterior walls. Most trees will be snapped or uprooted and power poles downed. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.
Category 5 Hurricane – Sustained Winds 157 MPH or higher
Catastrophic damage will occur: A high percentage of framed homes will be destroyed, with total roof failure and wall collapse. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last for weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.
To see an animation of the effects of the different wind intensities, check out this video below.
If you do decide that you will be evacuating, there are some other considerations.
Assuming you are staying put, you can expect services to be out and it helps to take some steps ahead of any outages to deal with issues as they arise after the hurricane.
You can’t forget about your pets either in a time like this and they should be taken with you if you decide to evacuate. You don’t want them left to die as so many were in Hurricane Katrina.
This list isn’t everything you could possibly need, but hopefully it is a start and helps some of you to be more prepared for hurricane survival if you find yourself in that situation. Please let me know your ideas to add to this hurricane survival guide. Stay safe!
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