NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC – Hurricane Preparedness Week is May 9 through 15 and New Hanover County officials are encouraging residents to be ReadyNHC and continue to consider COVID-19 when preparing for impacts of storms this year.
“Last year we had the opportunity to build out our emergency plans with COVID-19 in mind, and the pandemic continues to influence how we approach hurricane season, especially regarding logistical response and sheltering plans” said New Hanover County Emergency Management Director Steven Still. “We know all too well it only takes one storm to impact our area for weeks or months, so we encourage all residents to take the time now to prepare. Make sure your household knows what to do, where to go and who to contact when a hurricane impacts our area.”
Hurricane season is June 1 to November 30 each year, with most activity between August and November. Starting this year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center will use 1991-2020 as the new 30-year period of record. Using this frame of reference, the set of statistics used to determine when hurricane seasons are above, near, or below average has changed. So now the average number of named storms for the Atlantic hurricane season has increased from 12 to 14, the average number of hurricanes has increased from six to seven, and the average number of major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5) remains at three.
“While we won’t see the official predictions for this year’s hurricane season until later in the month, this reminds us that overall storms are becoming more frequent and even an average year is an active year, so it’s important we are diligent in planning ahead,” said Still. “Take the ReadyNHC steps – make a plan, build a kit and stay informed – to make sure you’re prepared.”
Follow these ReadyNHC steps, and ask how COVID-19 informs your preparation for the 2020 hurricane season:
Make a Plan: Where will you go?
Social distancing and safety measures will reduce the capacity at county storm shelters this year. Identify a safe place to go inland, like a hotel or friend or family member’s home safer than your own. If you haven’t yet, get vaccinated against COVID-19 and consider ways to safely expand your circle of interaction by maintaining social distancing, staying in one space as much as possible and bringing your own amenities like food and bedding.
Build a Kit: What will you need?
In addition to emergency supplies like food, water, batteries, medications, pet supplies, important documents and other needs, add items like face coverings and hand sanitizer to kits this year. Your emergency kit should include enough supplies for five to seven days.
Stay Informed: Who has reliable information?
Visit ReadyNHC.com to learn about local hazards that could impact our area, register for emergency alerts, sign up for New Hanover County emergency news updates and subscribe to National Weather Service updates. During an emergency, stay tuned to New Hanover County on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Nextdoor.
Social distancing guidelines and shelter guidance from the American Red Cross requires about 100 square feet of space per person to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which will greatly reduce the capacity of county emergency shelters for this hurricane season. Residents should plan now where they will go if a storm impacts our area. County emergency shelters will be limited and should only be considered as a last resort.
In an emergency like a hurricane, local officials may call for evacuations. Know Your Zone is a planning tool developed by the state of North Carolina in collaboration with counties, that outlines flooding risk from storm surge. Visit the Know Your Zone webpage to view your risk for storm surge flooding from hurricanes.
New Hanover County officials will also consider inland flood risks and other impacts from a storm to make evacuation decisions, and those will be communicated to residents prior to the storm’s impact. Signing up for the county’s emergency alerts is the quickest way to receive this information. Residents should also take time now to review evacuation routes and plan where you’ll go if evacuation is needed.
If evacuations are announced or other protective measures are directed, New Hanover County will send an emergency news alert and post information on EmergencyNHC.com, as well as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Nextdoor. Stay tuned to New Hanover County for the most up-to-date information during emergencies.
Neighbors Helping Neighbors
New Hanover County partners with a variety of organizations, including the New Hanover Disaster Coalition, to help households in need prepare for hurricane season. Residents who wish to donate hurricane supplies can visit ShareCapeFear.org to view wish lists of organizations, donate monetarily and find volunteer opportunities to assist community members be ReadyNHC.
For more information on hurricane preparedness, visit ReadyNHC.com.