Returning Home After A Hurricane.

Preparing to return home after evacuating will keep you safer while inspecting and cleaning up the damage to your home. Before traveling, ensure local officials have declared that it’s safe to enter your community and that you have the supplies you will need. Follow the suggestions below for returning to, inspecting and cleaning your home.

Image result for after a hurricane

(Photo: Survival Life )

Before Returning

  • Find out if it is safe to enter your community or neighborhood. Follow the advice of your local authorities.
  • Carry plenty of cash. ATMs may not work and stores may not be able to accept credit or debit cards.
  • Bring supplies such as flashlights, batteries, bottled water and non- perishable foods in case utilities are out.
  • Create back-up communication plans with family and friends in case you are unable to call from affected areas.
  • Plan for delays when traveling. Bring extra food, water, pillows, blankets and other items that will make the trip more comfortable. Keep the fuel tank of your vehicle as full as possible in case gas stations are crowded, out of fuel or closed.
  • Carry a map to help you route around heavy traffic or impassable roads.
  • Find out if local medical facilities are open and if emergency services are functioning again. Do NOT call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number to do this.
  • Understand that recovery takes time. Focus on the positive and have patience. Others will have similar frustrations.

First Inspection

  • If possible, leave children and pets with a relative or friend. If not, keep them away from hazards and floodwater.
  • Beware of snakes, insects and other animals that may be in or around your home.
  • Before entering your home, look outside for damaged power lines, gas lines, foundation cracks and other exterior damage. It may be too dangerous to enter the home.
  • If you smell natural gas or propane, or hear a hissing noise, leave immediately and contact the fire department.
  • If your home was flooded, assume it is contaminated with mold. Mold increases health risks for those with asthma, allergies or other breathing conditions.
  • Open doors and windows. If the house was closed more than 48 hours, let it air it out before staying inside for any length of time.
  • Turn the main electrical power and water systems off until you or a professional can ensure that they are safe. NEVER turn the power on or off, or use an electrical tool or appliance while standing in water.
  • Check the ceiling and floor for signs of sagging. Water may be trapped in the ceiling or floors may be unsafe to walk on.

Cleaning Your Home

  • Be careful when moving furnishings or debris, because they may be waterlogged and heavier.
  • Throw out all food, beverages and medicine exposed to flood waters and mud, including canned goods and containers with food or liquid that have been sealed shut. When in doubt, throw it out.
  • Some cleaning solutions can cause toxic fumes and other hazards if mixed together. If you smell a strong odor or your eyes water from the fumes or mixed chemicals, open a window and get out of your home.
  • Throw out items that absorb water and cannot be cleaned or disinfected (mattresses, carpeting, cosmetics, stuffed animals and baby toys).
  • Remove all drywall and insulation that has been in contact with flood waters.
  • Clean hard surfaces (flooring, countertops and appliances) thoroughly with hot water and soap or a detergent.
  • Return to as many personal and family routines as possible.
  • Caution: Carbon Monoxide Kills
  • Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning devices inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area. Locate unit away from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.
  • The primary hazards to avoid when using alternate sources for electricity, heating or cooking are carbon monoxide poisoning, electric shock and fire.

Items to Take When Returning Home:

  • Government-issued photo ID and proof of address
  • Important phone numbers
  • Bottled water and non-perishable foods
  • First aid kit
  • Cleanser/hand cleaning gel for personal use
  • Hygiene products and toilet paper
  • Insect repellent and sunscreen
  • Long-sleeved shirts, long pants, sturdy waterproof boots and work gloves
    Flashlight, portable radio and extra batteries
  • Cameras for photos of damage for insurance claims

Using Generators Safely

  • When using a portable generator, connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator. Do not connect a portable generator to a home’s electrical system.
  • If you are considering getting a generator, get advice from a professional, such as an electrician. Make sure that the generator you purchase is rated for the power that you think you will need.
  • Wear protective clothing, including rubber gloves and rubber boots.

Let Your Family Know You’re Safe

If your community has experienced a flood, or any disaster, register on the American Red Cross Safe and Well Web site available through RedCross.org to let your family and friends know about your welfare. If you don’t have Internet access, call 1-866-GET- INFO to register yourself and your family.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

American Red Cross. “Returning Home After a Hurricane or Flood” Web blog post. Hurricane Central, The Weather Channel. 19 Sep 2014. 13 Sep 2017

Clean Up Safely After A Disaster

Highlights

  • Stay away from damaged buildings or structures that have not been examined and certified by an inspector.
  • Wear hard hats, goggles, heavy work gloves, and watertight boots with steel toe and insole cleanup work.
  • Carbon monoxide can cause illness and death.
  • Remove and discard items that cannot be washed and disinfected.
  • Never turn power on or off or use an electric tool or appliance while standing in water.

When returning to your home after a hurricane, flood, or other natural disaster protect yourself and your family by following these tips.

 

Reentering Buildings

  • Stay away from damaged buildings or structures until they have been examined and certified as safe by a building inspector or other government authority. You may want to wait to return to buildings during daylight hours, when it is easier to avoid hazards, particularly if the electricity is off and you have no lights.
  • Leave immediately if you hear shifting or unusual noises that signal that the structure may fall or if you smell gas or suspect a leak. If you smell gas, notify emergency authorities and do not turn on the lights, light matches, smoke, or do anything that could cause a spark. Do not return to the house until you are told it is safe to do so.
  • Keep children and pets out of the affected area until cleanup has been completed.

General Safety Measures

  • Have at least two fire extinguishers, each with a UL rating of at least 10A, at every cleanup job.
  • Wear hard hats, goggles, heavy work gloves, and watertight boots with steel toe and insole (not just steel shank) for cleanup work.
  • Wear earplugs or protective headphones to reduce risk from equipment noise.
  • Use teams of two or more people to move bulky objects. Avoid lifting any material that weighs more than 50 pounds (per person).
  • When using a chain saw, operate the saw according to the manufacturer’s instructions, wear appropriate protective equipment, avoid contact with power lines, be sure that bystanders are at a safe distance, and take extra care in cutting trees or branches that have gotten bent or caught under another object. Use extreme caution to avoid electrical shock when using an electric chain saw. For tips on safely operating a chain saw, see Preventing Chain Saw Injuries During Tree Removal After a Disaster(https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/chainsaws.html).
  • If there has been a backflow of sewage into your house, wear rubber boots, rubber gloves, and goggles during cleanup of the affected area.
  • In hot weather, try to stay cool by staying in air-conditioned buildings, taking breaks in shaded areas or in cool rooms, drinking water and nonalcoholic fluids often, and wearing light and loose-fitting clothing. Do outdoor activities during cooler hours. For more information on protecting yourself against heat-related illness, see the CDC Extreme Heat Web site(https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/index.html).

Carbon Monoxide Exposure

  • Never use generators, pressure washers, or other gasoline, propane, natural gas, or charcoal-burning devices inside your home, basement, garage, or camper—or even outside near an open window, door, or vent. Carbon monoxide—an odorless, colorless gas from these sources that can cause sudden illness and death—can build up indoors and poison the people and animals inside.

For more information, see Carbon Monoxide Poisoning After a Disaster(https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/carbonmonoxide.html).

 

Mold and Cleanup

  • Remove and discard items that cannot be washed and disinfected (such as mattresses, carpeting, carpet padding, rugs, upholstered furniture, cosmetics, stuffed animals, baby toys, pillows, foam-rubber items, books, wall coverings, and paper products).
  • Remove and discard drywall and insulation that has been contaminated with sewage or flood waters.
  • Thoroughly clean all hard surfaces (such as flooring, concrete, molding, wood and metal furniture, countertops, appliances, sinks, and other plumbing fixtures) with hot water and laundry or dish detergent.

See Mold After a Disaster(https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/mold/), Homeowner’s and Renter’s Guide to Mold Cleanup After Disasters and the CDC Flood Web site(https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/floods/index.html) for further guidance on safely reentering flooded homes, cleaning up flood or storm water, worker safety issues, and mold cleanup issues.

Electrical Issues

  • If electrical circuits and electrical equipment have gotten wet or are in or near water, turn off the power at the main breaker or fuse on the service panel. If you must enter standing water to access the main power switch, then call an electrician to turn it off.
  • Never turn power on or off or use an electric tool or appliance while standing in water.
  • Do not connect generators to your home’s electrical circuits without the approved, automatic-interrupt devices. If a generator is on line when electrical service is restored, it can become a major fire hazard and it may endanger line workers helping to restore power in your area.

 

Hazardous Materials Issues

  • Call the fire department to inspect or remove chemicals, propane tanks, and other dangerous materials.
  • Wear protective clothing and gear (for example, a respirator if needed) when handling hazardous materials.
  • Wash skin that may have come in contact with hazardous materials.
  • Wear insulated gloves and use caution if you have to remove a car battery. Avoid any acid that may have leaked from a car battery.

 

Hygiene and Infectious Disease Issues

  • After completing the cleanup, wash with soap and water. If there is a boil-water advisory in effect, use water that has been boiled for 1 minute (allow the water to cool before washing). Or you may use water that has been disinfected for personal hygiene use (solution of 1/8 teaspoon of household bleach per 1 gallon of water). Let it stand for 30 minutes. If the water is cloudy, use a solution of 1/4 teaspoon of household bleach per 1 gallon of water.
  • If you have any open cuts or sores that were exposed to floodwater, wash them with soap and water and apply an antibiotic ointment to discourage infection.
  • Seek immediate medical attention if you become injured or ill.
  • Wash all clothes worn during the cleanup in hot water and detergent. These clothes should be washed separately from uncontaminated clothes and linens.

Water Issues

  • If the building is flooded, the waters may contain fecal material from overflowing sewage systems and agricultural and industrial waste. Although skin contact with floodwater does not, by itself, pose a serious health risk, there is risk of disease from eating or drinking anything contaminated with floodwater.
  • If you have any open cuts or sores that will be exposed to floodwater, keep them as clean as possible by washing them with soap and applying an antibiotic ointment to discourage infection. (See also Clean Hands Save Lives: Emergency Situations(https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/handhygienefacts.html) .)
  • To reduce cold–related risks when standing or working in water which is cooler than 75 degrees F (24 degrees C), wear insulated clothes and insulated rubber boots, take frequent breaks out of the water, and change into dry clothing when possible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Admin. “Fact Sheet: Clean Up Safely After a Disaster” Web blog post. Disasters, Clean up. Centers For Disease Control And Prevention. 30 Aug 2017, 12 Sep 2017.

How To Prepare An Emergency Kit.

Hurricane Irma could hit the United States by this weekend, meaning now is the time for coastal residents — along both the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico — to prepare.

Irma strengthened to a Category 5 storm Tuesday morning, the National Hurricane Center said, with sustained winds of 175 mph.

AccuWeather meteorologist Dave Samuhel issued a warning on Monday: “Have emergency supplies ready.”

Here’s what to pack in an emergency kit and additional steps to take ahead of a hurricane, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Emergency kits should combine basic staples (food, water) with supplies reflecting your family’s unique needs, such medications or baby formula.

Water: First and foremost, store at least three gallons of water per person — enough to last each three days. If you think you’ll be cut off longer, add an extra gallon per person per day.

Cash: Banks and ATMs could shut down. Power outages render debit and credit cards useless.

Documents: Keep copies of key documents in a waterproof, easy-to-carry container. These include identification such as passports and Social Security cards as well as insurance policies and bank account records.

Medications: Keep a one-week supply of prescription medications plus any over-the-counter items like pain relievers and antacids.

Food: Lay in a three-day supply of canned foods and dry mixes — nothing that needs refrigeration. Avoid thirst-inducing foods, and remember the dietary needs of those around you, including infants (ready-to-feed formula) and pets. Secure a hand-operated can opener.

Sanitation: Think moist towelettes, garbage bags and diapers. Consider paper goods such as plates and cups as well as plastic utensils.

Backup phone batteries: Extra batteries for your devices, also called portable power banks, could prove essential in a power outage. Here’s how to prep your smartphone for disasters.

Additional items: Flashlights with spare batteries, blankets, a first aid kid and NOAA weather radios are all recommended.

FEMA offers an extensive printable checklist for all-purpose emergency supply kits, too.

The agency also recommends tailoring supplies to whether you plan to evacuate or stay put at home, and to sign up for local alerts (just Google your city or country name plus “alerts”).

 

 

 

Josh Hafner, USA TODAY. Hurricane Irma: How to prepare an emergency kit. web blog post. News, USA Today. 5 Sep. 2017

Prepare For The Storm.

Trim trees. Flying branches and falling trees are some of the most common — and expensive — causes of damage during hurricane season. And you may get stuck with a big chunk of the bill. Your homeowners insurance policy will generally cover damage to your home caused by trees, but it usually pays no more than $500 to $1,000 for tree removal, even though it can cost a few thousand dollars to clean up a fallen tree (see When a Tree Falls in Your Neighbor’s Yard for more information about insurance and fallen trees). Bob Welther, assistant vice-president of the risk consulting group for insurer ACE Private Risk Services, recommends having an arborist come out each spring to inspect the trees near your home to identify any branches that could come crashing down.

Clean gutters and waterproof your house. Remove leaves and other debris from your gutters, which can clog them and send water pouring down the side of your house or under the roof. And check for cracks that could let water into your house. Welther recommends that you inspect your roof and make sure none of the shingles or tiles are damaged and that the vents are all sealed so wind-driven rain won’t enter your house.

Get a backup sump pump. Last week’s rains reminded people how important it can be to have a good sump pump, especially if you have a finished basement. If your sump pump stops working or gets overloaded, the water could pour into your house — and the damage may not be covered by insurance (see below). Have a battery backup for your sump pump, in case the electricity goes out. Even better, says Welther, is to add a battery-powered sump pump as a second pump, which gives you twice the capacity.

Secure your yard. The grading of your yard can determine whether storm water runs away from your home or into it. Damage from water that seeps through your walls or floors may not be covered by your homeowners insurance policy. Also, secure lawn furniture and other outdoor items before a storm arrives, so strong winds don’t turn them into projectiles.

Consider installing storm shutters. Storm shutters can do a lot to protect your home from hurricanes and other big storms. You’ll need time to buy them and have them installed, so don’t wait until the last minute. Contact your homeowners insurer first to see what kind of shutters you would need to qualify for a discount on your premiums. Also see Protect Your Home in a FLASH, from the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, for other home improvements that can protect your home from hurricanes, and you can get other ideas by entering your zip code at DisasterSafety.org for a list of common risks in your area and advice to help you protect your home.

Prepare a disaster kit. Put together an emergency kit that can help if you lose electricity during a storm. It should consist of a battery-operated radio (and extra batteries), flashlights and a landline phone that isn’t cordless (so you don’t depend on power from your electric utility). Keep some extra cash in case ATMs are on the blink for a while, and keep a phone charger in your car. The Red Cross also recommends stocking a three-day supply of food and water for everyone in your house, a first-aid kit and a seven-day supply of medications. See 7 Must-Haves for Your Emergency Kit and the Red Cross Store for pre-made emergency kits. Also see FEMA’s fact sheet on building a disaster-supplies kit.

Prepare a “go kit.” Put together a box or file that you can grab quickly if evacuated, including your insurance policies, contact information for your insurance company, agent and other emergency contacts, your home inventory, extra keys, powers of attorney, and other important financial and personal records, says Welther.

Consider a generator. Keeping the electricity running during a power outage can also help protect your home — by powering your alarm system, sump pump and air conditioning. You may even get a 5% discount on your homeowners insurance if you install an automatic standby generator, which runs on natural gas or propane and turns on automatically after detecting a power outage. See The Costs, Benefits of a Generator for more information.

Get coverage for sewage backups. It isn’t unusual for heavy rains to overburden the storm water system or for your sump pump to stop working during storm season, causing water or sewage to back up into your house. The damage can be smelly and expensive, especially if you have a finished basement. Sewage-backup coverage isn’t included in most homeowners policies, but you can generally buy a rider that costs about $50 to $75 to provide $10,000 to $20,000 of sewage-backup coverage (ACE and some other high-end insurers do cover sewage backup with their standard policies). Ask your agent or insurer whether you’re covered.

 

Make sure you have the right amount of insurance. Let your insurance company know about any home improvements that affect the cost to rebuild your home. Some insurers send an appraiser to your house to help estimate the replacement cost of your home; other agents or insurers will accept detailed information about the upgrades over the phone. You can also get an estimate of rebuilding costs at AccuCoverage.com (the service costs $7.95). See Check Up on Your Home Insurance for more information. You can also get advice from the Insurance Information Institute, at www.iii.org.

 

 

 

KIMBERLY LANKFORD. 12 Ways To Prepare For Storm Season. Web blog post. Insurance. Kiplinger. 5 May 2014. 15 August 2017

How to Prepare For A Hurricane.

Your level of preparation before a hurricane can determine how well you weather the storm and how quickly you recover from it. You should start preparing your home, inside and out, long before a storm is in the forecast. In the end, you can never be too prepared when it comes to protecting your loved ones and your property from extreme weather events such as hurricanes.

Related image

(Photo: Online Insurance)

follow the Forecast

You may hear the terms “hurricane watch” and “hurricane warning” in your local forecast. Understanding the difference between them is essential to helping you prepare for a hurricane. As soon as a hurricane watch or warning is forecast for your area, it is important, depending on the type of alert, to immediately begin or complete your preparations.

A watch means hurricane conditions are possible within 48 hours. You should begin to stock up on emergency supplies in the event a warning is issued. If you live in a coastal area, you also should be prepared to evacuate.

A warning is more serious. Hurricane-force winds (74 mph or higher) are expected to hit your area within 36 hours. You should seek shelter or evacuate, if notified to do so.
General Hurricane Preparation Tips

  • Prepare a survival kit that includes items such as water and non-perishable food for everyone, including your pets; medications; a portable radio; flashlights; batteries; and battery chargers for your cell phones and other portable electronic devices, which can be powered by your car.
  • Plan your evacuation route and leave as soon as an evacuation order is issued. Also, fuel up your car before you leave.
  • Build a content inventory of the items in your home or at your business.
  • Secure all outdoor objects or move them inside. Close your home’s storm shutters and board up windows and glass doors as appropriate.
  • If possible, bring in gas or charcoal grills, but do not use them indoors. Also, do not store propane tanks inside the house or garage. Chain propane tanks in an upright position to a secure object away from your home.
  • Secure your boat or move it to a safer place.
  • Fill your emergency generator fuel tank, if you have one, and have spare fuel on hand. Store generator fuel in an approved container in a garage or shed, away from open flames, heat sources and appliances such as natural gas appliances.

Five Tips to Help Prepare Your Home for a Hurricane

1. Help Avoid Water Damage

Heavy rains have the potential to cause significant water damage. These tips can help you prepare your home.

Closing and locking all windows and doors and removing any window air conditioners.

Removing valuable items from your basement or elevating them off of the floor.

Clearing debris from exterior drains and gutters.

Repairing damaged gutters and downspouts to make sure water can drain away from your foundation.

Checking your sump pump and the battery backup to confirm they are working properly.

2. Monitor Your Trees

In a powerful windstorm, trees can be a hazard. Broken limbs or fallen trees — even uprooted shrubbery — could damage your home and fences, or your neighbor’s property.

Routinely maintain the trees around your home.

Prune tree limbs within 10 feet of your home.

Check for cracking or splitting in trees.

Remove dead limbs and weakened trees.

3. Roofs, Doors, Windows and Skylights

It is important to keep wall openings, such as doors, windows and skylights protected. The roof, doors and windows of your house are especially vulnerable to wind damage. When houses are exposed to hurricane force winds, roofs are most susceptible to damage, followed by walls and openings such as skylights.

4. Secure Outdoor Items

If you live in an area that experiences high winds, outdoor items around your property that are not properly anchored can become airborne and cause damage.

If high winds are expected in your area, move as many outdoor items indoors well before the high winds arrive. As mentioned earlier, do not store propane tanks in your home or garage.

Adequately secure any remaining outdoor items that cannot be safely moved to protected areas.

5. Strengthen Your Exterior Structure

During a windstorm, wind forces are carried from the roof down to the exterior walls and then to the foundation. Homes can be damaged when wind and wind-driven water gets under the building’s exterior walls if proper controls are not in place.

Strengthen exteriors by employing a contractor to:

  • Install hurricane straps to reinforce roof-to-wall and wall-to-foundation connections.
  • Retrofit soffits to help ensure they remain in place in high winds.
  • Properly brace roof trusses.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“How to Help Prepare for a Hurricane.” Web blog post. Prepare & prevent, Hurricanes. Travelers. 28 July 2017

 

Flood Damage Prevention

While fire may be a more common concern among homeowners, your home could in fact be as much as ten times more likely to be damaged by water than by fire. Significant sources of water damage to one’s property can come from weather-related moisture or flooding, including flooding from heavy rains, flash floods, dam and levee failures, tidal storm surges and mudflows. In addition, new construction of buildings, roads or bridges can alter the flow of water, increasing the potential for flooding.

Living in a high-risk flood zone can increase the likelihood of experiencing a flood, but being outside a high-risk zone does not mean homeowners are safe; flooding is always a possibility.

flood damage outside a home

(Photo credit: Travelers)

 

Protecting Your Property Before, During and After a Flood

There are a number of things you can do to help minimize or prevent water damage to your property. Follow these tips to help prepare and recover from potentially costly flood damage.

Before the Flood:

Know your properties flood zone risk and evaluate your flood risk with this reference guide from IBHS.

Have your furnace, water heater and other permanent equipment elevated above the expected flood levels of your area.

Inspect sump pumps and drains regularly to ensure proper operation.

If you own a generator, have a licensed electrician provide a transfer switch to your sump pump so you can operate it in the event of flooding.

To help prevent sewage backup, have a licensed plumber install an interior or exterior backflow prevention valve.

Keep sandbags on hand to help divert unusually high water away from your foundation.

In snowy climates, flag drains to avoid plowing snow on top of them.

Learn the flood alert signals of your community.

Collect emergency building materials if you live in a frequently flooded area. These may include plywood, plastic sheeting, lumber, nails, shovels and sandbags.

Plan and practice an evacuation route. Designate a place for family members to meet in the event they become separated.

Review with all family members how to shut off utilities in an emergency.

Plan a survival kit with important documents, including insurance documents, medications and critical items in the event you need to leave your home.

During the Flood:

Listen to a battery-operated radio or television for the latest storm information. If advised to evacuate, shut off all utilities and evacuate immediately.

Move to high ground, avoid rising waters and do not walk or drive through any floodwaters.

Stay away from downed power lines and electrical wires.

After the Flood:

Listen to the radio and do not return home until authorities indicate it is safe to do so.

Once allowed back into your home, inspect it for damage. If your property has been damaged, promptly report the loss.

Be watchful of snakes that may have found their way into your home.

Throw away all food that has come in contact with floodwaters.

Remove standing water as quickly as possible, including from your basement. If your basement is flooded, pump out about 1/3 of the water per day to avoid structural damage.

Properly dry or remove soaked carpets, padding and upholstery within 24-48 hours after a flood to prevent mold growth. Discard anything that cannot be properly dried.

Wash and disinfect all areas that have been flooded. This includes walls, floors, closets and shelves, as well as heating and air-conditioning systems. Do not energize electrical or electronic equipment that may have suffered water damage without first having a qualified electrician inspect and/or test it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Flood Damage Prevention”. Web blog post. Prepare & Prevent, Flooding. Travelers. 28 July 2017.

 

How Flood Zones And Evacutaion Zones Differ.

Flood zones, evacuation zones, and storm surge are different. They measure different conditions that may not occur at the same time, are determined by different methods, and have different purposes. A home may be located in a non-evacuation zone, yet still be located in a flood zone because of a nearby stream or pond. Residents are advised to check all of them to learn what your flood risk is.

Image result for flood zone sign
(photo credit: Structural Solutions of NJ)
 

Definitions:

Flood zones are areas mapped by FEMA for use in the National Flood Insurance Program. Each flood zone designation, represented by a letter or letters, tells homeowners what the risk is for flooding at their property over a period of years, regardless of the cause. High risk areas, referred to as Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) are shown on the map as zones labeled with the letters A or V. By law, all homes in high-risk zones carrying a mortgage must be covered by flood insurance.

Visit the Pinellas County Flood Map Service Center to find out what your risk is.

Evacuation zones are based on hurricane storm surge zones determined by the National Hurricane Center using ground elevation and the area’s vulnerability to storm surge from a hurricane. The evacuation zones are marked from A through E, plus non-evacuation zones. Visit the Know your Zone Evacuation Level Lookup to find out what zone you are in.

 Storm Surge flooding occurs when an abnormal rise of water generated by a storm is pushed toward the shore by strong winds. If you are susceptible to storm surge, flood insurance is recommended, even if you are not located in a FEMA flood zone.

Current Water Levels in a nearby waterbody can help you predict when flooding might occur during a rain or tropical event.

 

Understand flood insurance

Much of Pinellas County is prone to flooding, so you should get flood insurance for your home, business, or rental. Regular homeowner’s or tenant’s insurance do not cover losses due to flooding. Flood insurance covers you for damage to your home, business and contents due to surface accumulation of water from inland or tidal flooding and erosion due to flooding. Don’t assume that you’re safe from flooding just because you live on an upper level in a condo building. If a severe flood wipes out the ground floor of your building, all of the other units in the building (including your own) may become uninhabitable as well.

If you are looking at buying a property, it is a good idea to check out the possible flood hazards before you buy. Most homeowners insurances do not cover flood damage. Talk to your insurance provider about your policy and consider if you need additional coverage.

 

Stay Connected

· Sign up for ALERT Pinellas – You will be notified of an emergency with phone and text messages!

· Sign up for E-Lert – Receive a monthly newsletter with the latest emergency education information and receive emergency bulletins and instructions during emergencies via email.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Flood Information.” Web blog post.  Pinellas County Flood Information. Pinellas County Florida. 28 July 2017.

 

Hurricane: During the Storm

If a watch is issued

  • Fill your vehicles with gas.
  • Get extra cash.
  • Fill prescriptions.
  • For mobile homes, secure tie-downs and prepare to evacuate when ordered.
  • Bring in loose objects from outside.

If a warning is issued

  • Secure all windows with shutters or plywood.
  • Place valuables and important papers in a waterproof container and store them on the highest floor of your home.

If you are advised or ordered to evacuate

  • Follow all directions and orders from local officials, and leave immediately when instructed to do so.
  • Bring emergency supplies, including a first aid kit, medicines, food, water, formula and diapers, toiletries, cell phones, radios, and batteries.
  • Bring extra cash and copies of important papers such as insurance policies.
  • Bring blankets, sleeping bags, books, and games.
  • Unplug appliances, turn off utilities such as electricity and the main water valve.
  • Lock the windows and doors of your home.

If you are not told to evacuate

  • Stay at home! Leave the roads available for those who must evacuate.
  • Clean your bathtub with bleach and fill it with water for washing and flushing (not drinking).
  • Set your refrigerator to maximum cold and keep it closed.
  • Turn off your utilities if told to do so by local officials.

During the storm

  • Go to an interior room and stay away from windows and doors, even though they’re covered.
  • During very strong winds, lie under something sturdy.
  • Do not go outside, including during passage of the eye of the hurricane.

Know your terms

The National Hurricane Center issues coastal watches and warnings for tropical storms and hurricanes. Local National Weather Service forecast offices issue tropical storm and hurricane watches and warnings for inland areas, using the same wind criteria and lead times described below.

  • Tropical storm watch: Tropical storm conditions (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) are possible somewhere within the specified coastal area within 48 hours.
  • Tropical storm warning: Tropical storm conditions (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) are expected somewhere within the specified coastal area within 36 hours.
  • Hurricane watch: Hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or greater) are possible somewhere within the specified coastal area. Because hurricane preparedness activities become difficult once winds reach tropical storm force, the hurricane watch is issued 48 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of winds of tropical storm force.
  • Hurricane warning: Hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or greater) are expected somewhere within the specified coastal area. The hurricane warning is issued 36 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of winds of tropical storm force.
    In addition, these local National Weather Service offices will issue an Extreme Wind Warning when sustained surface winds of 115 mph or stronger are occurring or are expected to occur in the specified area within one hour, as a result of a hurricane of Category 3, 4, or 5.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hurricane: During The Storm. Web blog post. Hurricane Center, Hurricane Safety. The Weather Channel. 8 June 2013, 20 July 2017

 

8 Tips for Traveling During Hurricane Season

Just because hurricane season is in full swing doesn’t mean that you need to shy away from some tropical destinations that are more frequently hit by hurricanes. It does, however, mean that you need to travel a little more wisely, take precautions and use good travel sense.

1. ‘Tis the Season

Officially, hurricane season extends from the beginning of June to the end of November in the Atlantic and from mid-May to the end of November in the Eastern Pacific. Historically, the season ramps up from mid-August until October, with most of the major storms hitting through the month of September.

2. Proactive Travel

Maybe you’re traveling for business, or are taking advantage of discounted travel prices during Hurricane season for a holiday. If you are traveling to a coastal area, or an area that is known to be struck by hurricanes, be proactive. U.S. nationals can subscribe to STEP (Smart Traveler Enrolment Program) which will get you in touch with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate to make them aware of your presence in the area. Canadians should register in the Registration of Canadians Abroad. What this will do is provide your family with an avenue through which to contact you in the case of a weather emergency, as well as put you quickly in touch with agency help should you need to evacuate or require other assistance prior to or during a hurricane. Registration in these programs will subscribe you to text and email weather alerts. Getting a Red Cross app on your smartphone will link you into weather alerts as well.

3. Travel Insurance

Admittedly, traveling during hurricane season carries with it certain additional risks, and travel insurance is a good way of mitigating some of the financial risks. Before you go, make sure your insurance covers trip interruption and trip cancellation. Usually, a comprehensive plan is the best way to go, but make sure you read the fine print around weather, acts of nature and catastrophic events. Also, make sure you’ve got medical coverage- either through your health care plan or through additional travel insurance. Don’t wait until you are traveling and the weather forecast is gloomy. You most likely won’t be able to get coverage at that point.

4. The Smart Carry-On

Travel delays are a common headache for any traveler, but if you’re traveling during a season where weather can be more forceful and more unpredictable, the likelihood of flight delays and losing your luggage increases. Reduce this stress by packing a quality carry-on with all of the necessities you might need for a couple of days to enjoy your vacation or to attend your meetings.

5. Consider your Destination

You can score some sweet travel deals during hurricane season, but make an informed decision through a little background research. There are areas that are frequently hit, and those that are vulnerable with a chance of very stormy weather. If you’re heading to the Caribbean, for instance, statistically the islands in the southern part are less affected. Don’t overlook the impact of an indirect hit from a hurricane either. Even if you are inland, you may still be subjected to heavy rain and high winds, which sort of puts a literal damper on your day at the amusement park or golf course.

6. Refunds?

Check with your hotel before you go on what their hurricane policies are. Some offer refunds, but most hotels will offer guests a credit or a discount to come back and stay at a later date. Airlines typically will allow you to change your flight plans without penalty. If you get stuck at an airport between connections, ask hotels for a discount; they will often comply under these circumstances. Cruise ships are a little different, because their itineraries are a little more dynamic and they are often able to steer themselves around storms.

7. Extra packing

In addition to your usual packing, you’d be well-advised to pack a few extra items: a travel first aid kit, a battery operated radio and a flashlight for starters. With your travel documents, compile the necessary numbers and contact info you’ll need to get help and process claims, like agency phone numbers, government contacts and insurance policy numbers.

8. When you Arrive

Make sure you know what their hurricane procedures are, in case any bad weather comes your way. Familiarize yourself with evacuation routes and policies and inquire about any other necessary details from hotel staff that you might need during your stay. Getting caught in a weather emergency can be stressful, but having a detailed plan ahead of time can help reduce the panic.

 

 

 

 

 

Heather Wright. 8 Tips For Traveling During Hurricane Season. Web blog post, Travel Tips. Escape Here. 17 July 2017.

 

Getting Your Home Ready For A Hurricane.

Start with shutters and your roof

“If you buy shutters or other coverings with product approvals and use licensed contractors who pull building permits, you’re on your way to protecting your home,” says engineer Jose Mitrani, associate professor emeritus in the school of construction at Florida International University in Miami.

“And be sure that inspections are done of the work,” says Mitrani, who served on building code task forces after Hurricane Andrew, a Category 5 storm that tore through South Florida in 1992.

Roof cover damage is the biggest reason for hurricane insurance claims that are not related to storm surges, says the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, or IBHS, in Tampa, Florida.

A cascade of trouble can happen when a roof is roughed up by a hurricane: Water gets in through gaps in the roof decking, which soaks the attic insulation, which collapses the ceiling, which damages your furniture and other belongings when wet wallboard and insulation fall on them.

And that’s if your roof mostly stays intact. If your roof lacks truss tie-downs known as hurricane straps or its gable ends are unbraced or improperly braced, you stand a greater chance of losing part of or the entire roof over your head.

That’s why the IBHS and the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, or FLASH, suggest you take these roof precautions now before hurricane season revs up.

  • Nail or caulk loose roof tiles or shingles.
  • On a metal roof, check for rust and loose anchoring.
  • Install hurricane straps. (Consider hiring a licensed contractor to do this.)
  • Brace gable ends. (Ditto on hiring a professional.)
  • Install a backup water barrier under the roof cover if necessary.

The IBHS also suggests you check your attic’s ventilation. Loose eave and gable end vents, soffits and turbines all provide opportunities for water to enter your attic.

Image result for hurricane house safety

(photo: Travelers Insurance)

Window and door coverings

To a great extent, getting your home hurricane-ready means making sure it’s equipped with the right hurricane-resistant window and door coverings. They run a gamut that includes various types of shutters, panels, screens and sheeting, as well as impact-glass windows and doors.

Plywood is cheap but considered an emergency measure — and it’s little help unless you size and anchor it correctly.

Mitrani says even the smallest windows must be covered because in a major storm, smaller openings are actually subjected to higher wind pressures than larger areas such as the side of your house.

The average window area to be covered (including doors with windows) is about 15 percent of a home’s total square footage, according to the IBHS. A 2,000-square-foot home would need about 300 square feet of shutters. If your shutters cost $20 per square foot, you’ll spend $6,000.

The IBHS notes that some coverings can be installed only by professionals and cost up to $30 per square foot of opening. Do-it-yourself products cost about half as much.

Beware of contractors who try to sell DIY products, warns Leslie Chapman-Henderson, president and CEO of FLASH. “Those are products that are cheap and can’t get product approval,” she says.

Protecting doors and windows

Some coverings are permanent attachments to your home, such as accordion shutters and “clamshell” awnings. Accordion shutters rest folded and highly visible on both sides of your windows, while single-piece clamshell awnings fold down over your windows from above.

Removable hurricane panels sit in tracks at the top and bottom of window and door openings; only the tracks are permanently attached to the building.

If you live in a condo or a development with an active homeowners association, be aware that there may be rules about the type and color of storm shutters allowed. Check before outfitting your doors and windows.

Also, ask your local building department what’s required of coverings in your state or region. Mirtrani says building codes in Florida, for example, require that hurricane products be able to withstand certain levels of impact by wind-borne debris. That means those products have to undergo impact tests to earn approval.

Once your new coverings are installed, take them for a trial run, suggests Tim Reinhold, IBHS chief engineer and senior vice president of research.

“Make sure you have all the parts and everything is sized and fits properly,” he says.

Other property precautions

Before hurricanes start forming, do a spot-check from the attic down. FLASH recommends caulking holes in building exteriors and tightening or replacing loose and missing screws and brackets in windows and doors — including garage doors. Also, be sure to clean out the gutters.

A few final preparation tips:

  • Don’t tape windows. Placing those masking-tape X’s across your panes may feel comforting, but the National Hurricane Center says it’s a waste of valuable time and won’t keep your windows or glass doors from shattering.
  • Plan to evacuate a mobile home. Even if you have a newer manufactured home built to withstand higher wind speeds, Reinhold says there’s too great a chance of damage from flying debris from older neighboring homes to risk staying.
  • Prepare for high-rise pressure changes. If you live in a high-rise building, be aware that potentially damaging wind pressures increase with height.
  • Batten down the patio/yard. Don’t leave anything outside, including furniture, playthings and tools. Trim trees so branches won’t bang against the house, and do it early enough so the trimmings can be hauled off before a hurricane. Otherwise, they could become projectiles in a major storm.
  • Gas up before the storm. Fill up your vehicles and emergency power generator well ahead of time to avoid last-minute lines at the pump.

 

 

 

 

 

Terry Sheridan. This hurricane season could be a big one. Check your home’s defenses. Web blog post. Insurance, Bank Rate. 31 May 2017. 7 July 2017