Time to Prepare For Florence's Winds and For a Major Flooding Event

As a meteorologist, I would prefer to wait another day (so more data can be gathered) for posting this but the unique circumstances of Hurricane Florence require preparation now. Why?
  • The models, the National Hurricane Center and my experience indicate Florence will approach the coast as both a major hurricane and at an angle which will allow its winds to do the greatest damage.
  • The models greatly slow Florence down once inland, raising the potential for major flooding. 
Preliminary Hurricane Florence Wind Forecast

Preliminary Florence Flood Forecast
Because it takes time to prepare, I am posting what I would be doing for my family if I lived in the forecast hurricane or flood zones outlined above.

If you are in the areas where you are less than 20' above sea level (storm surge threat), hurricane force winds are forecast or if you live in a flood prone area per the above maps, prepare to evacuate. By prepare, I mean make a hotel reservation (which costs nothing) rather than driving at the last minute looking for a place to stay. You can always cancel the reservation. 
  • If you live in the hurricane/surge zone, make the reservation for Thursday night through Sunday morning. You can extend it, if necessary.
  • If you live in the flood zone, make it for Friday night through Monday morning. In some areas that reservation will need to be extended, perhaps a considerable period of time. 
Or, if you live in a coastal area, you can impose on the people who mooch on your family for cheap vacations by temporarily moving in with them until the threat from Florence has passed. :-)

Yes, make it a family outing or adventure and make the most of what could be a difficult situation. Begin pulling together the materials you will want to take with you. Get a paper map or print one out. If you are in a 200 year flood plain, it may be a while before you have to leave but prepare now. It will be chaos if emergency evacuations are declared.

Cities in which to stay that should be far enough in the clear of both the worst winds and the worst flooding include: Asheville, Columbia, Baltimore.

So, What Do I Do Now?

There are a number of good lists out there. Here are my suggestions for things to do at this point with the storm about 4 days away. Most of the things I recommend will eventually be used even if the storm does not affect your specific location. 
  • Get prescriptions refilled now, especially if you doctor must approve the refill. 
  • Toss out any expiring food, clean cat litter boxes, empty all trash cans in the house, including bathrooms. Otherwise the odors could get bad.
  • Gather your utility bill (proof of current residency!), passport and any other important papers so you can take them with you if you should have to evacuate due to the hurricane’s winds and/or the hurricane’s flooding. Put together a "go kit."
  • If you are in the hurricane wind area, see this information for preparing your home. 
  • Prepare bottles of water by filling them 90% (allowing for expansion when they freeze) and putting them in your freezer. They will keep the freezer cool longer if the power fails. They will also serve as emergency water. Freezers stay cold longer when full. So, if you have two freezers, consider consolidating the contents. 
  • Pet food and supplies? I'm not an expert in pets so I leave that to you. 
  • Batteries for everything. Lots of batteries. Full charge for cell phone and laptop. Keep them fully charged. 
  • If you have a relative at home that requires electricity for life-assistance purposes, you may want to move he or she outside of the higher wind zone. 
  • If you can get an electrician to install a generator, get it done. Do not try to install a generator yourself. 
  • If you don't have a generator, get a power inverter or two. Radio Shack and similar stores sell them. They are a "poor man's generator" and will keep your cell phone, laptop, and similar items charged. Tell the person in the store what you want to run off it so you get one of the right size. Do not try to run the inverter for hours at a time as that is tough on your car's battery. Charge the (for example) cell phone and let the charge run all the way down, then use the inverter to recharge. 
  • Keep your car's gas tank full. 
  • If you have a wood-burning fireplace and you know your chimney is clear, get wood. Keep some indoors to keep it dry during the storm. You may need it to heat your home, especially since the power failures could last for weeks in some area (i.e., toward the first of October). 
  • If you live in a 200-year flood plain (you can check at city hall or your library) or on the coast figure out your evacuation strategy now. Make your list of things you will take with you. Be prepared to leave at short notice. Have a paper map of the region as your first choice of evacuation routes may be cut off. 
  • Fill a few gas cans (the type you would use for your mower) to have extra in the event of power failures for your auto or generator. 
  • Purchase extra food staples. Without power, stores will be closed. Things that require less preparation are better. Bottled water is especially important. 
  • Purchase booster batteries for your cell phone and other essential equipment. If you need insulin or other medicine that must be kept chilled make plans now!
  • Consider what you would do if you were without electricity for a month. If you have an invalid living with you that requires electricity, there will be areas that will be without for weeks. Be proactive. 
  • If you live in a heavily wooded area, does someone in your vicinity have a gasoline-powered chain saw? Does it have fuel and a reasonably good chain/blade? Test it, now. 
  • Get to an ATM. Without power, credit card readers and ATMs will not be working. In a disaster, cash is king!
  • If you are in the high forecast wind area, thoroughly photograph your home and possessions now. You will need it for insurance purposes. This includes trees, shrubs, etc. Then, if using a digital camera, upload to internet so it will be there after the storm in case the worse happens. You can use it then to document damage for insurance purposes if the worst occurs. 
  • Stay away from downed power lines!

There is an Ascel Bio hurricane family health briefing here, please consult it. Please consider sharing this posting with family and friends.

You will need to have your preparations finished by the times indicated below.

I'll periodically update this as the threat unfolds. Hang in there! Prepare wisely and we'll all get through this together. 


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