It’s easy to forego hurricane preparation when we’re so busy every single day just trying to keep up with our usual crush of activities.
Yet when we hear amid the hubbub of our daily lives that a hurricane is on a direct path for our city, hurricane preparation can take on a great deal of importance. Unfortunately, by that time, it’s too late to do much more than evacuate or attempt some sort of shelter at home.
What are the signs that you’re not prepared? And more importantly, how can you be prepared for the next hurricane?
What is a Hurricane?
Hurricanes are intense tropical storms with sustained winds above 74 mph. That’s a Category 1 hurricane. You can find the five categories of hurricanes listed below along with the type of damage to expect.
|Hurricane Category||Sustained Winds||Expected Damage|
|1||74 to 95 mph||Some damage to roof, vinyl siding, gutters, trees toppled, branches down, power lines and poles down, power loss for a few to several days.|
|2||96 to 110 mph||Extensive damage to frame homes and trees, power poles down, power loss for days to weeks.|
|3||111 to 129 mph||Devastating damage, loss of roof and gable ends, trees and power poles down, loss of both power and water for weeks.|
|4||130 to 156 mph||Catastrophic damage, loss of roof and some walls, most trees and power poles down, loss of power for weeks or months. Area uninhabitable for weeks or months.|
|5||157 mph or higher||High percentage of frame homes destroyed with total roof failure and wall collapse. Power out for weeks or months. Area uninhabitable.|
Source: OSHA Hurricane Preparedness https://www.osha.gov/hurricane/preparedness
As noted in this chart, hurricane winds cause massive damage. Also, along with those winds, hurricanes bring storm surges, heavy rain, flooding, and often tornadoes. Plus, all this severe weather can happen to your area even without a direct hit by the hurricane.
Storm surge is the leading cause of hurricane-related fatalities. Second is flooding from heavy rains. Flooding can occur hundreds of miles from the path of the hurricane and last for days, well after the hurricane has moved on.
Do Hurricanes Hit South Carolina?
Yes, hurricanes do hit South Carolina. Since records have been kept beginning in 1851, 30 hurricanes have hit our state, including five that were at or exceeded Category 3 winds of 111 to 129 mph.
For further confirmation, see our article Worst U.S. Cities for Hurricane Damage. There you’ll find that Myrtle Beach sees on average 5.1 hurricanes per decade.
Signs You’re Not Prepared
Hurricanes are deadly dangerous. Not only that, but as the chart above points out, power and water can be lost for days or weeks. In the worst storms, the affected area can become uninhabitable.
Here are the signs you’re not prepared and what you can do about it.
- No family emergency plan. You’ll need an emergency plan to guide you and your family’s activities before, during, and after a hurricane. It should also deal with work and school plans so everyone in your family is covered. Ready.gov has a superb family emergency plan as an excellent starting point to building your own plan.
- No emergency home shelter. Hopefully, your home is suitable as a shelter. Designate a part of your basement or an interior room without windows that can protect your family from high winds. Stock it with supplies you’ll need and let your family know where to gather.
- No emergency supplies on hand. Hurricanes can cause such significant damage that you could be restricted to your shelter for days and perhaps weeks. That means it’s critical to stock your shelter with food, water, a first aid kit, a flashlight and batteries, charged cell phones, prescription medications, pet food, sleeping bags, personal hygiene items, and more. Ready.gov has a detailed listing of basic disaster supply kits.
- No weather monitoring system. You’ll need to keep close tabs on the weather as it develops and as it moves away. Use a battery-powered NOAA weather radio or a smartphone weather app to get alerts and keep up to date. Of course, if the cell phone service goes down, only the weather radio will be of help. Don’t venture outside until the all-clear has been given.
- No evacuation information. If the hurricane is expected to hit your area directly, it may not be safe or even allowed for you to stay at home. In that case, you’ll require information on shelters and travel routes. Due to changing conditions, you may also need alternate shelter information and backup routes in case of road closures. It’s also a good idea to have a set of emergency supplies to take with you to the shelter.
- No home preparation. Winds and heavy rain can impact the best-prepared homes. But those that are poorly maintained can be at significant risk. Roofs, trees, gutters, and drainage systems need regular maintenance. It’s also best to make sure your basement or crawl space is waterproof with the necessary drainage systems. A sump pump with battery backup can prove essential during power outages. Use storm shutters or cover windows with plywood. Install a wind-load garage door or use a hurricane shutter.
For more advice on hurricane preparation, see our articles Hurricane Preparedness Week in South Carolina and 4 Tips to Prepare Your South Carolina Home for Hurricane Season.
We Can Help
We can also help identify any issues with your basement or crawl space that should be addressed before a hurricane arrives. For a free inspection and repair estimate, contact the professionals at Mount Valley Foundation Services.