It’s never too soon to prepare for hurricane season

Published 3:00 pm Friday, July 1, 2022

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With unpredictable weather and hurricane season approaching, now is the time to start planning for storm emergencies.

Hurricanes wreak havoc along the East Coast — dumping rain, causing power outages and creating high winds and tornadoes that can lead to life-threatening situations and millions of dollars in property damage.

Last year’s Hurricane Ida was one of the most devastating and costliest on record. Fifty-five deaths were directly attributed to Ida’s flooding, high winds and tornadoes. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimated damages to be $76.5 billion — the fifth highest following hurricanes Katrina, Harvey, Maria and Sandy.

And this year’s hurricane season is expected to be another busy one, with The Weather Channel forecasting 20 tropical storms, eight hurricanes and four major hurricanes expected to reach at least Category 3.

“Preparing and having a plan beforehand can minimize a storm’s impact to your family, farm or business,” said Scott DeNoon, senior farm product and underwriting manager for Virginia Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co. “Invest the time now to make sure you and your family are properly prepared to face this hurricane season.”

Residents can be proactive and take steps to protect their home and property by cutting and removing overhanging trees and branches that pose a threat to buildings. It’s also important to inspect roof conditions, and make necessary repairs to prevent and minimize storm damage. Clear gutters to avoid unnecessary water damage, board up windows with cut-to-fit plywood, and secure any objects that may become airborne in strong winds.

Additionally, “insurance policies should be reviewed to determine that the proper type and amount of coverage are in place,” DeNoon shared.

Keep your family safe by establishing a communications plan, and have emergency items ready in case of an evacuation. Virginia Farm Bureau’s Hurricane Preparedness Central provides a free family communications plan for download, as well as tools for determining your risk for severe weather disasters and items to include in an emergency kit.

The site also includes tips about what to do during and after storms, such as monitoring the news, avoiding floodwaters, keeping your phone charged and pets safe, and avoiding using or drinking tap water.

While hurricane season officially is June 1 through Nov. 30, weather experts caution that tropical storms could develop earlier. Eight of the past 10 hurricane seasons have begun before June 1, and officials at the National Hurricane Center are discussing whether to move the start of hurricane season up to mid-May.