We shared this write-up today with our top tips for those in the path of Hurricane Harvey. This information is based on our experience for the past 19 years, and it covers some important lessons learned. For a more information, please visit www.flash.org, www.hurricanestrong.org, or https://www.youtube.com/user/StrongHomes. And please feel free to share. We will be on Twitter @FederalAlliance with #HurricaneStrong and our Facebook page now through the end of Harvey.
Since 1998, the nonprofit Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) has worked with families before, during, and after natural disasters. As Texas and Louisiana communities face the potential of destructive winds and flooding from Hurricane Harvey, here are their top “lessons learned” for life safety and property protection ahead of the storm.
1. Minimize Danger – Understand the Power of Rushing Water
According to the National Hurricane Center, storm surge accounts for approximately half the deaths in hurricanes since 1970. The National Weather Service (NWS) tells us that these tragedies happen because people underestimate the force, speed, and power of water. A modest six inches of fast-moving water can knock down an adult, 12 inches can carry away a small car, and 24 inches will move an SUV. That’s why FLASH and NWS created the Turn Around, Don’t Drown program in 2003 with lifesaving reminders. Watch this video to learn more, and remember that where it rains, it can flood.
2. Know Your Zone – Define Evacuation Needs
Two critical steps for survival are to identify whether you reside in a storm surge evacuation zone and to develop a plan for where you will be when the waters rise. Once you have your plan in place, heed all evacuation orders, and do so quickly. Remember, making the right decision to either stay or leave on a timely basis will keep you, your family, and your community’s first responders out of harm’s way. Use this updated list from FLASH to Find Your Evacuation Zone today.
3. Avoid Regrets – Secure Supplies and Build a Kit
You’ll need to plan for two situations—remaining home or evacuating to a different location. Click here for a comprehensive list of supplies that you will need to stay comfortable and safe.
4. Act Now – Reduce Home and Contents Damage
You still have time for some meaningful steps to protect your property from Harvey. Take the following actions to protect from expected flooding:
- Clean out gutters and ensure downspouts are clear to allow water to flow away from the home.
- Prepare and place sandbags using these steps to ensure they don’t topple. (Don’t forget to review safe disposal guidelines.)
- Elevate, wrap, and move valuable carpets, electronics, and furniture to a higher floor or alternate location.
- Secure cleanup materials (masks, gloves, mops, buckets, bleach, etc.) before the storm.
Click here for a full list of pre-storm flood mitigation options. If you reside in an area where high winds are expected, click on this link to read or watch a video with hurricane prep steps broken into one-hour, one-day, and one-weekend checklists.
5. Stay Connected – Communication is Key
Visit www.flashweatheralerts.org to download a severe weather alerting App for your iOS or Android powered device. Scroll down to “Settings” and select “Notifications”. Choose all relevant coastal, flood, hurricane, thunderstorm, tornado, and wind alerts to ensure you stay up-to-date with all watches and warnings issued by the NWS. This App costs $4.99 (less than a typical $30 weather radio), and $1 of each sale supports FLASH.
Be sure to refresh your supply of batteries, flashlights, and hand crank or solar-powered chargers. Keep a landline telephone plugged in as battery-powered phones will not work during a power outage.
6. Buy Insurance – The Key to Recovery
Homeowners, renters, and flood insurance policies are the most effective financial recovery tools available for storm victims, but often many realize too late that flood insurance is a separate policy that requires a 30-day waiting period. It’s likely that you won’t be able to add a flood policy or change any of your regular policy coverage in time for Hurricane Harvey, but you should still contact your agent or company in advance. Understanding your policy limits, co-insurance, deductibles, and where to call with any claims will come in handy if you are affected by the storm.
Whether you reside along the coast or well inland, planning now and following the above advice can help you if Hurricane Harvey heads your way. For more information, visit www.flash.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org, follow @FederalAlliance on Twitter, follow FLASH on Facebook, or call (877) 221-SAFE (7233).