Highwaters and Hurricane Preparedness
Let’s face it. When we were kids, we learned pretty quickly that wearing floods (or highwater pants)was absolutely uncool. Unless you were Steve Urkel from the 1990s hit TV show Family Matters, that is. While Steve made fashion floods seem slightly cool and significantly funny, real floods and their counterparts: hurricanes—are no laughing matter. In fact, it takes far more than owning a pair of highwater pants to prepare for them.
Unlike our favorite television shows, where we have to wait until fall for the new season to start, hurricane season is just over one month away. From June 1 to November 30, we’ll need to pull up our pant legs, hang onto our hats and be prepared to weather some… well … crazy weather!
There is no way to completely assure ourselves that we’ll escape hurricane season without damage. But there are ways to reduce the risks of losses to our homes, businesses and communities—before, during and after a hurricane. FEMA has created a “Before, During and After” plan to help
Some highlights from the FEMA resource include:
- Create an emergency kit containing food, water and supplies, as well as a disaster communication plan (phone numbers and an out of state contact to check in with).
- Pinpoint potentially hazardous areas around your property including levees and dams.
- Know escape routes for your area and how to reach higher ground.
- Have a plan to secure your property (shuttering windows and securing roofs) and remove potentially hazardous objects that can cause damage (loose furnishings, etc.).
- Install an emergency generator.
- Listen to emergency TV and radio broadcasts for information and instructions.
- Turn off utilities and propane tanks.
- Ensure access to water, not only for drinking purposes, but for sanitary purposes.
- Have access to a supply of non-perishable, canned and low-salt foods, as well as foods for special dietary needs.
- Follow evacuation instructions carefully. Also evacuate if you are in a high rise, mobile home or temporary structure.
- Avoid using phones except for emergency communications.
- Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or the local news for updated information and instructions
- If you have become separated from family members, use your disaster communication plan, contact the American Red Cross at 1-800-RED-CROSS/1-800-733-2767, or visit the American Red Cross Safe and Well site: www.safeandwell.org
- Continue to follow evacuation instructions. Return to your property only after it has been deemed safe to do so.
- Drive only if necessary and avoid flooded roads and washed-out bridges. Stay off the streets. If you must go out watch for fallen objects; downed electrical wires; and weakened walls, bridges, roads, and sidewalks.
- Stay out of any building if you smell gas, flood waters remain around the building, or your property was damaged by fire, and the authorities have not declared it safe.
- Avoid drinking or preparing food with tap water until you are sure it’s not contaminated. Check refrigerated food for spoilage. If in doubt, throw it out.
- Inspect your home for damage. Take pictures of damage, both of the building and its contents, for insurance purposes. If you have any doubts about safety, have your residence inspected by a qualified building inspector or structural engineer before entering. A company like ESR can also determine if the building is safe and sound, and help you quickly evaluate and address damage and restoration needs.
Here at ESR, we’ve all worn highwaters—just like Steve Urkel did—more than we’d like to admit. We’ve also seen our share of hurricanes, floods, and all associated conditions. But unlike TV season, hurricane season can have a serious and longstanding effect on our lives—personal and professional, and it doesn’t always have the happiest of endings. But with good preparedness and an experienced partner like ESR on your side, you will be in a better position to get through the season with your safety, sanity, and your favorite TV chair all intact. As for the highwater pants, let’s leave them to television and old photo albums.