“Ninety percent of the fatalities of tropical systems historically is from the water,” said Ken Graham, National Hurricane Center director. “In the last three years, 83 percent of fatalities from tropical systems has been inland flooding and more than half in automobiles.”
Graham also emphasized that lower category hurricanes require just as much consideration for preparation due to their ability to cause catastrophic damage.
“In the last decade, Category I storms have produced $103 billion worth of damage and 175 fatalities,” Graham said.
The NOAA came up with a four-step system to help others prepare for when a hurricane hits: gather information, plan and take action, recover, and resources.
Step one: gather information, the NOAA emphasizes knowing if you live in an evacuation area. They say to assess your risks and know your home's vulnerability to storm surge, flooding and wind. Look out for National Weather Service forecast products and undertand the meaning of their watches and warnings.
Step two: plan and take action stresses to put together a disaster supplies kit which includes items such as water, food, flashlights and first aid kits. To see the full suggested contents of the kit, visit https://www.ready.gov/build-a-kit.
Step two also includes having an emergency plan, guarding the community’s health and protecting the environment, following instructions from local officials for evacuation, and to be alert for other potential weather hazards, including tornadoes, brought in by the hurricane.
Step three: recover. This step highlights the need to wait for the area to be declared safe before returning home, and remembering that recovery takes time.
Step four: resources. This includes knowing the resources offered for preparation before a hurricane occurs as well as the resources available for recovery including the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the American Red Cross, and the National Weather Service Weather Safety.
Additionally, the National Weather Service highly recommends people learn the different warning signals that are used so they can properly prepare and react to what is forecasted to come.
Another resource available is a website created by the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) and Federal Emergency Management Agency, where people can look up the codes that were used to build their home at InspectToProtect.org. The data is color coded to specify if your home or building is within code or outdated.
“You can go there and at least get started on a path to understanding weather or not you should even consider staying in your home, if your roof will stay on, and everything will turn out well if you hunker down ahead of a hurricane,” said Leslie Chapman-Henderson, FLASH Chief Executive Officer.
Additional resources can be found at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, FLASH, NWS, and the American Red Cross websites.