RICHMOND, Va. — As our neighbors down south are bracing whatever Barry brings, officials say you should take steps now to prepare you and your family before a storm hits closer to home.
Hurricane season starts June 1 and runs through November. While we’re one month into the season, it’s not too early to start getting ready.
Remember those long lines and empty shelves at the grocery stores during Hurricane Florence? Tammy Arnette from AAA Mid-Atlantic says it’s completely avoidable if you get to work now.
“You don’t want to be in panic mode, you don’t want to be thinking about getting things at the last minute,” Arnette said. “If everyone else is thinking that same way you be in a situation where you can’t find supplies that you need.”
A 2016 AAA poll found only 19 percent of Virginians had adequate supplies and a family emergency plan, touching on where to meet and how to get in contact with loved ones.
“So, make a plan now before you have to,” Arnette said.
What do you need in a hurricane or home disaster emergency kit? Pack at least 3-5 days worth of water and non-perishable or canned food per person and pet in your household. Stock up on batteries, a first aid kit and lanterns. Click here for a full list of items.
When it comes to your vehicle, Arnette says you need to make sure it’s filled up with gas before a storm hits in case you need to leave your home.
“Make sure your tires are properly inflated, you don’t want to lose traction. And your wiper blades are up to date. The last thing you want is to not be able to see,” she added.
Some items you might want for your home during severe weather might be a little pricey, such as a portable generator or chainsaw. Hurricane preparedness items are tax-free during Virginia’s Tax Free Holiday Weekend each year. It’s coming up August 2 to 4.
Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) oversees statewide planning for severe weather response. Department starts reviewing how it can improve for the next hurricane after the current one ends, an official says.
VDEM is already in talks with counterparts in North Carolina about coordinating evacuation plans, so people vacationing in the Outer Banks can safely leave the area. Jeff Caldwell, VDEM’s External Affairs Director and Chief Agency Spokesperson, says they’ve also met with Hampton Roads officials about new census data about their residents, which could impact how long it takes people to evacuate.
During Hurricane Florence, Caldwell says the department’s website crashed for 36 hours. It was completely rebuilt during that day and a half and has continued to be improved over the past nine months. The department is running tests on its website to make sure it can handle increases in traffic during severe weather.
While the website was down, Caldwell says VDEM shared the evacuation map through other means.