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What to do before, during and after the storm

Hurricanes are among nature’s most powerful and destructive events. They can create widespread damage leaving debris, downed trees, flooding, live power lines on the ground and damaged buildings in their wake. Being prepared can help you, your family and your business minimize the impact of these storms. Don’t wait for a hurricane watch to be issued to start planning, the best time to create your plan is now. Here are a few things to keep in mind.


  • Check to see what evacuation zone your home is in.

  • Create an emergency communication plan with your family.

  • Sign up for Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio also provide emergency alerts.

  • If you are at risk for flash flooding, watch for warning signs such as heavy rain.

  • Practice going to a safe shelter for high winds, such as a FEMA safe room or ICC 500 storm shelter. The next best protection is a small, interior, windowless room in a sturdy building on the lowest level that is not subject to flooding.

  • Based on your location and community plans, make your own plans for evacuation or sheltering in place.

  • Become familiar with your evacuation zone, the evacuation route, and shelter locations. If you have pets, make sure the shelter you plan to go to accepts them.

  • Create an emergency kit that includes supplies for at least three days. Your kit should contain non-perishable food, water, cash, and other essentials. Keep in mind each person’s specific needs, including medication. Don’t forget the needs of your pets.

  • Keep important documents in a safe place or create password-protected digital copies.

  • Protect your property. Declutter drains and gutters. Install check valves in plumbing to prevent backups. Consider hurricane shutters. Review insurance policies.



  • Monitor news and other media sources to get the latest weather updates and emergency instructions.

  • Restock your emergency preparedness kit. Include food and water sufficient for at least three days, medications, a flashlight, batteries, cash, and first aid supplies.

  • Plan how to communicate with family members if you lose power. For example, you can call, text, email or use social media. Remember that during disasters, sending text messages is usually reliable and faster than making phone calls because phone lines are often overloaded.

  • Review your evacuation zone, evacuation route and shelter locations. Review your evacuation plan with your family because you may have to leave quickly.

  • Keep your car in good working condition and keep the gas tank full; stock your vehicle with emergency supplies and extra clothes.

  • If you have NFIP flood insurance, your policy may cover up to $1000 in loss avoidance measures, like sandbags and water pumps, to protect your insured property. You should keep copies of all receipts and a record of the time spent performing the work. They should be submitted to your insurance adjuster when you file a claim to be reimbursed. Visit to learn more.

  • Bring in loose, lightweight objects that could become projectiles in high winds (e.g., patio furniture, garbage cans); anchor objects that would be unsafe to bring inside (e.g., propane tanks); and trim or remove trees close enough to fall on your home or business.

  • Cover all of your home’s windows. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows but a second option is to board up windows with 5/8” exterior grade or marine plywood.

  • Keep your phone and laptop fully charged. In an emergency, your laptop can be used to recharge your phone.


  • If told to evacuate, do so immediately and do not drive around barricades.

  • If sheltering during high winds, go to a FEMA safe room, ICC 500 storm shelter, or a small, interior, windowless room or hallway on the lowest floor that is not subject to flooding.

  • If trapped in a building by flooding, go to the highest level of the building but do not climb into a closed attic. You may become trapped by rising flood water.

  • Listen for current emergency information and instructions.

  • Use a generator or other gasoline-powered machinery outdoors ONLY and away from windows.

  • Do not walk, swim, or drive through flood waters. Turn Around. Don’t Drown! Just six inches of fast-moving water can knock you down, and one foot of moving water can sweep your vehicle away.

  • Stay off of bridges over fast-moving water.


  • Listen to authorities for information and special instructions.

  • Be careful during clean-up. Wear protective clothing and try not to work alone.

  • Do not touch electrical equipment if it is wet or if you are standing in water. If it is safe to do so, turn off electricity at the main breaker or fuse box to prevent electric shock.

  • Keep generators and other gasoline-powered machinery away from windows and open doors.

  • Avoid wading in flood water, which can contain dangerous debris. Underground or downed power lines can also electrically charge the water.

  • Save phone calls for emergencies. Phone systems are often down or busy after a disaster. Using text messages or social media to communicate with family and friends may be more reliable.

  • Document any property damage with photographs and contact your insurance company for assistance.

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