The South Carolina Climatology Office has identified 247 tropical storms in our state between 1851 and 2019. Of those, 130 tracked into the state, and 41 made direct landfall on the coast. They note that there’s an 80% chance of being impacted by a tropical system every year.
Charleston has seen 41 tropical storms between 1851 to 2018. Twenty-five were full-blown hurricanes. Hurricanes Bertha and Isaias came by in 2020.
Hurricane Mathew hit all those cities in 2015 and caused a 1,000-year flood event with rainfall up to 20 inches and rivers rising 13 feet above the flood stage. Hurricane Florence dropped 23 inches of rain in 2018.
It’s a good idea to do everything we can to prepare for the hurricane season that starts June 1 and runs through November 30.
Prepare Your Home
Home is where the heart is and where you’ll find your best options for shelter in severe weather. Here’s a list of tasks you can take to prepare your home, along with a list of steps to take immediately before a hurricane.
- Review home insurance. Homeowner’s insurance doesn’t typically cover flooding from weather events. Check with your insurance agent or the National Flood Insurance Program on the coverage that’s available.
- Set up weather notifications. You’ll want to keep on top of developing weather conditions. You can set up alerts using a smartphone app and monitor NOAA weather radio. FEMA also has a mobile app for keeping up with alerts and for finding open shelters.
- Trim trees. Any dead trees and branches can find your home in high winds and do serious damage. Trim them regularly to keep your yard in shape and your home safe.
- Keep gutters clear. Water coming off your roof and falling on the foundation can cause basement or crawl space flooding. Keep your gutters and downspouts clear as part of your spring and fall maintenance.
- Check the foundation drainage system. Make sure your basement or crawl space is waterproof with the necessary drainage systems. A sump pump with a battery backup is essential during power outages.
- Maintain your roof. Keep your roof in repair by replacing any loose or missing shingles. Damage to your roof can allow rain into your attic leading to further damage throughout your home.
- Add an emergency generator. Even a small gas-powered generator can keep appliances running during a power outage. It needs to run outside; never run it inside. Make sure you’ve tested it as well before you need it.
- Keep backup fuel on hand. Power outages can last for days, and finding fuel when everything is shut down could prove impossible. Keep backup fuel on hand and ready to go when needed.
- Move vehicles. Park your cars in the garage or a carport. Fill their tanks with gas as well. Make sure you can manually open the garage doors when power is lost.
- Secure outdoor furniture. Move lawn chairs and other items into storage or secure them. They can become airborne in high winds and do considerable damage to your home and your neighbors’ homes.
- Cover windows and secure doors. Use hurricane shutters or plywood to cover windows. Wind-load garage doors can be very helpful. When either a window or door is blown in, the winds can easily lift off your home’s roof.
- Set up an emergency family shelter. An interior room or your basement can serve as an emergency shelter. Stock it with emergency supplies and make sure your family knows where to go.
- Stock emergency supplies. A hurricane emergency could last for several days. You’ll need food, water, a flashlight, medications, a first aid kit, and more to support your family over that time. Ready.gov has a detailed listing of basic disaster supplies kits.
Prepare Your Family
While you’re preparing your home for hurricanes, it’s also important to prepare your family. Here’s a list of steps to take.
- Write a family emergency plan. It’s all well and good to have some idea in mind about your emergency plan. But you really need to write it all down so that everyone in your family can be prepared. Ready.gov has a superb family emergency plan as a starting point.
- Add school and work plans. Your family plan should also take into account school and work emergency plans. Include the critical aspects of those plans so everyone is up to speed on what to expect and what to do in an emergency.
- Read the community hurricane response plan. Your community has also developed extensive disaster plans. Look for shelter locations, evacuation plans, and notification channels.
- Set up family emergency contact numbers. Make sure everyone in your family has the phone numbers needed to keep in touch. That should also include school and workplace phones.
- Establish an emergency meeting location. It’s not always possible to head home whenever a weather warning is issued. Your family may well get separated when the hurricane arrives. Set up an emergency meeting location and backup locations for after the storm.
- Practice your plan together. Review your emergency plan with your family and then go one step further—practice your plan. This will bring it to life for everyone and help you spot any unexpected challenges before you’re trying it on for the first time during a hurricane.
Prepare for Evacuation
It may be that you won’t be able to stay in your home due to storm damage or evacuation orders. In that case, you’ll need to be prepared to evacuate your home and the area.
Your community’s hurricane response plan will provide the location of shelters. You’ll need to plan travel routes to those shelters as well as backup routes in case of road closures or flooding.
You’ll also need emergency supplies to take with you. This can be a subset of the emergency kit you’ve built for your family shelter.
We Can Help with Your Preparation
We can help identify any issues with your basement or crawl space that need to be addressed before a hurricane or tropical storm arrives. For a free inspection and repair estimate, contact the professionals at Mount Valley Foundation Services.