Hurricane preparation can be a complicated and sometimes daunting task. Hurricanes cause damage with wind, with heavy rain, and with a storm surge. However, some simple planning will be huge for preventing some serious headaches and heartaches after the storm blows through.
1. Hurricane Preparation: Purchasing Insurance
If you are a homeowner, then having a solid hurricane, wind, and flood insurance coverage is extremely crucial. For most Americans, it is unusual to live in a place where your home could be completely destroyed. In New Orleans (or anywhere along the Gulf of Mexico), hurricanes threaten to wipe out your property annually. Therefore, the best way to protect yourself is with a good insurance plan. Flood policies are somewhat different and often require a separate plan from your homeowner’s policy, so make sure you have both.
2. Hurricane Preparation: Outside Your Home
Hurricane preparation starts outside your home. First, if you understand that wind damage is a primary threat, then you should think of everything that is not tied down as a possible projectile. Walk your property and imagine what could break loose and fly through your windows such as wind chimes, patio furniture, kid’s toys, etc. Either strap things down or bring them inside the home. Second, anything that could be damaged by water should be moved indoors or to higher ground. Lastly, make sure you close up your shutters or board your windows (depending on the size of the storm). Typically, a Category 1 or Tropical Storm is fine, whereas a Category 2 or higher can cause serious wind damage.
3. Hurricane Preparation: Inside Your Home
In the days leading up to the hurricane, you should try to eat through the perishables inside your fridge. If you have anything that you consider supremely valuable, then you should place it on the second floor or on a high shelf. Also, if you have anything that cannot survive without electricity, then make sure you plan on having backup power or taking it with you during evacuation.
4. Hurricane Preparation: Cars
First and most important, make sure you fill up your tank of gas a few days before the storm! Lines will stretch for hours and last minute gasoline is a nightmare. Second, if you are evacuating, then you won’t need much to prep. Lastly, if you are not evacuating, move your car to high ground. Find a median (neutral ground in NOLA) or parking lot in an elevated area and park your car there.
5. Should You Evacuate for a Hurricane?
Generally, my wife and I do not evacuate for a Category 1 Hurricane or Tropical Storm. For a Category 2, we play it by ear. We look at the speed of the storm, the likelihood of it hitting New Orleans, and whether the hurricane is going east or west of the city. First, fast moving storms usually cause less damage since they move through the area quickly. Second, look at the possibility of the hurricane hitting your area. Keep in mind that they hurricanes are unpredictable and can shift at any moment. Lastly, the eastern side of a storm is always more damaging than the western side. If the storm is going towards Mississippi and Alabama, we are less concerned than if it is headed towards east Texas or west Louisiana.
6. How to Prepare If You Stay
First, you need to buy lots of bottled water. Alternatively, you can clean out a bathtub and fill it with water. Second, you need to stock up on non-perishable food. If you have a natural gas stove, then it will give you more options because you can cook. Otherwise, buy foods that can be eaten cold. Lastly, you should absolutely, positively, make sure you have some alcohol. You probably won’t have access to a cold fridge or ice, so make sure you get something that can be enjoyed at room temp. Wine is a great choice, as is something more sturdy like bourbon.
7. Remember What Is Important
Finally, remember that the most important thing is your safety and the safety of your loved ones. People have lost countless possessions on the Gulf Coast to weather events, but none of that compares to losing someone you care about. Keep yourself, your family, and your pets safe. Always remember it is better to be safe than sorry.