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While not as popular as the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, the state’s Hurricane Preparedness Week is much more important to Nash County residents’ safety.
Local and state emergency management officials are urging Nash residents to update emergency plans and kits this week, which is set aside every year to mark the need for storm readiness.
“You can be better prepared to survive a hurricane and mitigate damage to your home or business by planning for a tropical storm or hurricane. When residents have a plan and a survival kit, it goes a long way to helping our county preparedness and protects our first responders,” said Brent Fisher, the county’s assistant director of emergency management and fire-rescue services.
North Carolina has been hit by 83 tropical storms and hurricanes since 1851. Since the 1930s, Nash County has been affected by 65 hurricanes and tropical storms. In addition, Nash County has been included in nine hurricane federal disaster declarations.
Hurricane season always runs from June 1 through Nov. 30.
Past case studies from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have shown that flooding accounts for 50% of hurricane-related deaths each year and 25% of U.S. hurricane deaths occurred in inland counties from freshwater flooding.
To encourage residents to prepare, Gov. Roy Cooper, a Nash County native, has declared May 3-9 as Hurricane Preparedness Week. Nash County residents should take this time to review and practice their emergency plans.
“Your emergency plan should include where to go and who to contact when disaster strikes,” Fisher said. “Make sure to take the time to practice your plan so your family and loved ones know what to do. You should also talk to your neighbors about their plans, especially those who may need assistance such as senior citizens. Discuss how you can assist one another so everyone is safe.”
Fisher urges Nash County families and businesses to write down their plan and gather important documents, such as copies of driver’s licenses, insurance policies, medical records and bank account statements, and put them somewhere they can quickly access in case of emergency. Assemble an emergency supplies kit that includes enough nonperishable food and water to last each family member three to seven days. Other essential items include:
• First-aid kit.
• Weather radio and batteries.
• Prescription medications.
• Sleeping bag or blankets.
• Changes of clothes.
• Hygiene items such as toothbrush, toothpaste, soap and deodorant.
• Pet supplies including food, water, bedding, leashes, muzzle and vaccination records.
Make sure to review and update homeowners’ or renters’ insurance policies to ensure they include coverage for damage, natural disasters and flood insurance.
Nash County residents should stay informed during severe weather by using a battery-powered radio for weather and evacuation information and should know evacuation routes in their community.
“When asked to evacuate, residents should leave the area immediately,” Fisher said.
“Be familiar with your evacuation routes. If you encounter flooded roadways, turn around, don’t drown. Six inches of water can cause you to lose control of your vehicle and a foot of water can cause your vehicle to float.”
Fisher said being prepared for severe weather doesn’t mean the area won’t see severe damage, but it does improve chances for surviving and recovering quicker from a storm. More information on hurricanes and overall emergency preparedness can be found online at www.ReadyNC.org.