As people who’ve lived in New Orleans all our lives, we understand the threat that hurricanes pose to our community. It’s essential to prepare and stay informed. Here’s a guide on how to ready yourself, your family, and your property for a hurricane.
Sign Up for Local Alerts & Hurricane Warnings
Staying informed is crucial during hurricane season, so you should monitor local news outlets for the latest updates. Organizations like the National Weather Service (NWS) and NOAA Weather Radio provide important alerts. Online, you can follow hurricane watch organizations for real-time updates.
Remember, hurricane alerts escalate from an Advisory to a Watch, then to a Warning, each indicating increasing severity.
Memorize Evacuation Routes/Destinations
Ensure you have a pre-determined evacuation plan. Contact your Department of Transportation or Office of Emergency Management for official evacuation routes. The FEMA app or website can provide locations for emergency shelters. Keep your gas tank half-full at all times in case a quick departure is necessary. Have an out-of-state relative to relay status updates to and establish a rendezvous point with your family.
Stock Emergency Supplies
Preparedness can make a huge difference in a disaster situation. Essential items include a radio, flashlight, fresh batteries, and basic toiletries. Always have on hand durable footwear, medications, a first aid kit, and a 3-day supply of non-perishable food and water. Don’t forget supplies for pets and a multi-tool for various tasks. Keep critical documents in a waterproof container. A warm jacket and small comfort items—for children and adults—may also prove indispensable.
Pack a Go-Bag
A well-prepared go-bag should contain a gallon of water per day per person, a 3-day supply of non-perishable food, a can opener, hand-crank radio and extra batteries, a flashlight, a first aid kit, a whistle, and a dust mask. Also, include plastic sheeting and duct tape for makeshift shelter, moist towelettes, garbage bags, and plastic ties for personal sanitation, and a poncho and goggles for weather protection. A knife, pencil, and paper can be invaluable in many situations.
If there’s room, pack prescription meds, contact lenses or glasses, a waterproof container with documents, some cash, a sleeping bag, clothing, hats for rain protection, and chargers and power banks for cell phones.
Secure Your Property
Property protection is vital during a hurricane. Install sewer backflow valves, secure or anchor fuel tanks, and review insurance policies to ensure they cover hurricane damage. Keep in mind that many insurance policies do not cover flood damage, so only damage from wind or rain is covered by hurricane insurance policies. On that note, you should catalog personal belongings for potential insurance claims.
Finally, bring loose or lightweight items indoors, trim or remove trees that might collapse, and install plywood over all windows and glass doors. Install a water alarm and a sump pump with a backup battery if you have a basement. Clear your gutters and drains to prevent water damage.
Preparing for a hurricane is no small task, but it’s necessary to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe. Remember, we’re all in this together, New Orleans. Stay safe and vigilant.