For the history and round up of Katrina go to Wilkipedia
For Rita go here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Rita
One of the main issues that came out of both hurricanes
was the confusion and lack of organisation (especially Katrina) in the evacuation process. It appears from these two events,
we witnessed confirmation of what many already knew… - When it comes to the crunch, you are on your own!
Well-rehearsed and safe preparedness is essential
if one is to overcome many of the challenges faced in situations such as these natural disasters.
Many of the tips and advice included here are also
relevant for any natural (or man made) disaster. Be sure to check the many links and files available, and discuss the issues
and preparedness ideas with your family and friends.
Remember: – Be safe –Be wise -Be prepared
What is a Hurricane?
Hurricanes develop from a tropical storm that have
reached a constant speed of 74 miles per hour or more. In the centre of a hurricane is a relatively calm area known as the
“eye”, the area of which may be 20 –30 miles wide.
The storm itself invariably extends outwards of up
to 400 miles, and upon reaching land it brings torrential rains, storm surges (as we witnessed in Louisiana with Katrina)
and high winds.
Hurricanes may last for two weeks over open water
and run a path across the entire length of the US Eastern seaboard. The hurricane season normally lasts from the beginning
of June until the end of November.
The preparedness advice below is listed initially
under time frames, that is, what to do prior to a hurricane, right through to surviving a hurricane and post effects. While
at the end of the article are a few useful links.
Before the Hurricane season;
If you live in an area subjected to hurricanes,
it would be advisable to plan your preparations well in advance of the season. As many have witnessed from Katrina and Rita,
the adage of “it will not happen in my backyard” no longer applies. Hurricanes and other natural disasters may
strike anywhere with no consideration for property or life.
Discuss and plan a safe evacuation route
with your friends and family. Practice driving this route well before the hurricane season starts by making a day out or weekend
trip, so that you will get used to the procedures and what to take.
I have included an overview list of tips
in the general preparedness article here
However, ensure that if you decide to
evacuate take sufficient fuel for the journey, remember the high increase in gas/fuel prices at the pumps, and even worse,
shortages during Katrina and Rita.
Make sure you have a full gas tank, and
if you do have spare fuel, ensure safe storage in the correct containers. For example, here is advice from the Health and
Executive of UK government on storage of petroleum
You may also wish to contact the local
Emergency planning office for information on the local community hurricane preparedness plan.
Be prepared to drive at least 50 to 100
miles inland in order to locate to a safe area. So, as above, not only ensure you have sufficient fuel to get there, but you
may want to return too!
Study the topography of your area, such
as access to side roads and trails, you may have to avoid the highways when the crunch comes. Get to know the local terrain,
rivers and boggy areas are to be avoided, search out for the high grounds, you may need them.
Disaster supply kit:
We have discussed the contents of disaster
kits in a number of preparedness articles, but as an overview, here are some essential items you should carry.
and spare batteries
– preferably the wind up and solar version to keep informed of events. Know which station emergency broadcasts transmit
aid kit – including current medications any of the family are taking
and water – for at least 3-5 days
suitable clothing – including waterproofs and strong boots
- Hand can opener (“morfa” type or army type light weight are ideal) see http://www.thebunkerdirect.com/army_military_surplus_outdoor_cooking_and_water_detail_404_4_13.cfm
- Personal documents and ID
- Pets – ensure you have made arrangements for their safety, remember if you are thinking of heading to a community
shelter, pets may not be allowed to come with you
- Make sure all the family know how and where to shut off the domestic utilities, such as water, gas and electric.
- Check flood insurance etc on your home
- Cut back any overhanging branches near the house
- Batten down any loose materials and keep a supply of timber and boards on your property ready to board up windows and
doors etc. If you leave it until the last moment, you will find all the local D.I.Y stores and lumber merchants have run out
of stock. Remember to have nails and screws on hand, also – a hand screwdriver and a hammer!
- There is a possibility that a disaster may strike with minimum of warning, so ensure your family know who to contact
in case they are separated, and importantly WHERE to meet.
Hurricane Watch – given 36-24 hours prior to hurricane reaching location
- Maintain watch on radio and TV for current weather updates and hurricane reports for your area – be ready
to move at moments notice, if you have not already left!
- Check emergency supplies
- Check your vehicle – it should also be fuelled up ready to go by now
- Clear all loose objects lying around perimeter of house – anchor securely those you cannot move
- Board up windows and take down any aerials or antennae’s that may be damaged, or worse that can cause
- Store drinking water in clean suitable containers – water for toilet facilities may be stored in garbage
bins outside…make sure they are secure, or bring inside.
- If you have a boat or trailer etc, make sure you bring it to a secure place and anchor to the ground.
- Any furniture and possessions you are leaving behind, move to a higher floor, if this is not possible, elevate
and stack the furniture so only minimum damage is sustained.
During a Hurricane warning:
If you have been given
a hurricane warning for your area, you should have left for your safe location by now. However, if for various reasons you
are unable to evacuate, the following points should be noted.
- Listen continuously to battery operated radio for updates
- Do not go in elevators
- Ensure your home is secure – batten down – and if you are in a mobile home (avoid if at all possible)
secure to ground.
- Stay away from glass windows, skylights and doors
- If you experience a power outage, turn off major electrical appliances to avoid a power surge
when power returns.
- You should have evacuated by now, but remember to lock and secure all doors and windows prior to leaving, unplug
all electrical items and. let friends know where you are going.
After the storm:
- Keep tuned into your radio for current updates
- Assist trapped or injured persons if safe to do so
- Do not move the seriously injured, unless they are at immediate risk from further injury.
- Return home only when it is safe to do so
- Enter your home with caution – beware of loose or falling timbers, or electrical wires and report
such damage to authorities as soon as possible. Be aware of any animals that may have taken refuge in your home during the
- Carefully open doors and windows to allow adequate ventilation and do dry out your house.
- Check electrical appliances before switching on power supply – Ensure there is no standing water or damp
patches in areas near the appliances or switches. See below
- Check for gas leaks – if you smell gas or hear any unusual noises, leave the building and call
the gas/electrical company. Check to ensure that you have turned off the utility supplies. If you have turned off the gas
mains it should only be turned back on by a registered professional
- Inspect for electrical system damage--If you see sparks, broken or frayed wires, or if you smell hot
insulation, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. If you have to step in water to get to the fuse
box or circuit breaker, call an electrician first for advice.
- Check for sewerage and water supply damage – call a plumber if required. If the water pipes are damaged, contact
the water company and avoid the water from the tap.