As Tropical Storm Erika makes its way up the east coast, are you ready? I am presently on the side of the world where these storms form. Though hurricane season runs from June 1- November 1, we seem to see some of the worst storms during this time of the year. Tropical systems in Virginia usually result in rain, wind or both.
Tropical systems are usually packed with rain. The problem comes when systems stall, dumping large amounts of rain. Flash flooding becomes the problem in this scenario. Low lying areas are prone to flooding. Some homes and businesses will experience flooding. But the greatest hazard is for those in motor vehicles. You have heard from many sources, the danger associated with driving through high water. High water, in this case, could mean 18.” Water can rapidly sweep you and your car away. Avoid flooded roadways at all costs.
Tropical systems may also be packed with high, sustained winds. We experience high winds in thunderstorms pretty regularly. In those situations, we experience downed trees and power lines.
Sustained, high winds are even more dangerous. Trees and power lines are in greater jeopardy of being effected on a wider scale. These are the times when power outages could last for weeks, instead of days. Rain contributes to the number of downed trees even more. If you are fortunate enough to have an emergency generator, you should start your generator, run it under a load and fill your gas tanks and cans before the storm arrives.
It is important that you have enough basic supplies: drinking water, bread, milk, propane, food items, flashlights, batteries, etc. You will need enough to sustain you and your family for about a week. We all know what going to the grocery store at the last minute, before a big storm, means. These things don’t come often, but you must think differently about day-to-day survival, after one has struck. Something else to keep in mind are those with medical needs. A person that is on oxygen 24/7 will have to go on portable oxygen, until the power is restored.
The important thing is that you must think about what can go wrong in a tropical storm and formulate a plan that will allow you to overcome the challenges presented by the storm. Residential fires and problems associated with carbon monoxide increase during major storms. When the power goes off, how will you light your home? Where will you place your generator for long-term operation? Fueling a hot generator is not recommended. Major storms change the way that we live, during and after the storm. Please remember to think about your neighbors after you have taken care of your family.