Amid the day-to-day rush of activities from work, family, school, and more, it’s tough to think of much else. Perhaps the last thing we think about is preparing for a hurricane.
That is until we hear on the news that Hurricane So-and-So will be arriving in our neighborhood in the next few hours. Then it’s way too late to do much more than take shelter or evacuate.
What are the signs that you’re not prepared for hurricanes in Maryland and Virginia? And more importantly, how can you be prepared for the next one?
What is a Hurricane?
Hurricanes are intense tropical storms with sustained winds above 74 mph. That’s a Category 1 hurricane. You can find the five categories of hurricanes listed below along with the type of damage to expect.
|Hurricane Category||Sustained Winds||Expected Damage|
|1||74 to 95 mph||Some damage to the roof, vinyl siding, gutters, trees toppled, branches down, power lines and poles down, power loss for a few to several days.|
|2||96 to 110 mph||Extensive damage to frame homes and trees, power poles down, power loss for days to weeks.|
|3||111 to 129 mph||Devastating damage, loss of roof and gable ends, trees and power poles down, loss of both power and water for weeks.|
|4||130 to 156 mph||Catastrophic damage, loss of roof and some walls, most trees and power poles down, loss of power for weeks or months. Area uninhabitable for weeks or months.|
|5||157 mph or higher||High percentage of frame homes destroyed with total roof failure and wall collapse. Power out for weeks or months. Area uninhabitable.|
Source: OSHA Hurricane Preparedness https://www.osha.gov/hurricane/preparedness
The table above deals primarily with wind levels and the associated damage. But hurricanes also bring with them a storm surge, heavy rains, flooding, and tornadoes. Plus, all those can happen without the hurricane coming ashore.
Storm surge is the leading cause of hurricane-related deaths. It hits the coast and travels inland along rivers, bays, and estuaries. The second leading cause of hurricane fatalities is flooding from heavy rains. Flooding can occur hundreds of miles from the coast and last for days after the storm has moved on.
Do Hurricanes Hit Maryland and Virginia?
Yes, they do. Since records have been kept beginning in 1851, 12 hurricanes have hit Virginia, and two have hit Maryland. They rank 12th and 16th in the U.S. for states with the most hurricanes.
In 2020 Hurricane Isaias caused $4 billion in damage from North Carolina into Virginia and Maryland and on up to New England. For more information, see our article Worst US Cities for Hurricane Damage.
There’s also storm surge to consider, even with a hurricane just passing by. CoreLogic’s 2020 Storm Surge Report ranked Virginia Beach fifth in residences at risk of damage with 397,722 single-family homes at risk with an estimated reconstruction value of $95.59 billion.
Signs You’re Not Prepared
Given all that information, you can tell hurricanes are deadly dangerous. They demand your best efforts to protect your family and your home. What are the signs and what can you do about it?
- No family emergency plan. This needs to cover who does what when. Primarily, it’s about getting to your home shelter and what to do if you’re away from home. Ready.gov has a superb family emergency plan as a starting point.
- No emergency home shelter. You’ll need to designate an area of your home for an emergency shelter. An interior room without windows is best to protect from high winds. A second-floor area works for flooding. Stock it with supplies and let your family know where to gather.
- No emergency supplies on hand. With significant storm damage in your area, you could be in your emergency shelter for several days. It’s critical to stock your shelter with food, water, a first aid kit, flashlight and batteries, charged cell phones, prescription medications, pet food, sleeping bags, personal hygiene items, and more. Ready.gov has a detailed listing of basic disaster supplies kits.
- No weather monitoring system. If you don’t know what the weather is doing, you won’t be able to respond in time. Use a NOAA weather radio or smartphone app to keep up with weather warnings so you know when to take shelter and when it’s safe to go outside.
- No evacuation information. Sometimes it’s not possible to stay at home even in your shelter. Your home may be damaged, or you’ve been requested to evacuate. You’ll need information on shelters, the routes to them, and alternate routes. It’s also wise to have emergency supplies you can toss in your car.
- No home preparation. Regular home maintenance is essential not only to protect your home from day-to-day wear and tear but also from severe storms. Keep your roof in repair. Trim trees to prevent branches from falling on your home. Make sure your basement or crawl space is waterproof with the necessary drainage systems. A sump pump with battery backup is essential during power outages. Use storm shutters or cover windows with plywood. Install a wind-load garage door or use a hurricane shutter.
For more advice on hurricane preparation, see our article Hurricane Preparedness Week.
We Can Help
We have locations throughout Maryland and Virginia, including Baltimore, Washington D.C., metro area, Appomattox, Richmond, Roanoke, and Virginia Beach. We’ve helped quite a few people in the area prepare for severe weather, including hurricanes.
We can also help identify any issues with your basement or crawl space that should be addressed before a hurricane arrives. For a free inspection and repair estimate, contact the professionals at JES Foundation Repair.