First East Coast hurricane reminds us to prepare

CHARLESTON—As Hurricane Florence gathers force in the Atlantic Ocean and threatens to make landfall along the shores of the Carolinas, state and diocesan officials are working to coordinate their responses for possible evacuations and to assist in the aftermath.

There are important preparations for everyone  that could possibly be affected by a hurricane. Here is a look at information compiled by Catholic Charities as well as some other suggestions to get ready for hurricanes.

Know where you are in relation to the highest threat area. Understand the height of your neighborhood related to possible storm surge, because this surge of water is the biggest killer during a storm.

Know which zone you live in. Along the coast, residents live in designated zones according to their proximity to the shoreline. Know your zone so you quickly will be able to know if you should leave if the governor calls for an evacuation.

Have a family plan. Discuss the evacu­ation routes your family will use if you leave ahead of a storm and know where you are going once you leave the area. Learn hurricane shelter locations if that is your planned destination, or know where else you can stay, whether at a friend or relative’s house or a hotel. Have contact numbers readily avail­able and a meet-up place planned if the family is separated.

Gather necessary storm supplies. Whether you evacuate, go to a shelter or stay in your home, have on hand necessary medical supplies and other storm essentials including: emergency food and water for at least three days, flashlight and extra batteries, portable battery-operated radio and extra batteries, first aid kit and manual, non-electric can opener, cash and credit cards, sturdy shoes, changes of clothing and toys and games to keep children entertained. Have copies of important papers as well. In your home, store these supplies in a waterproof container.

Protect your home. Cover windows with permanent shutters, plywood panels or other shielding materials. Bring inside lawn furniture and other loose objects such as grills and garbage cans. If you have a mobile home, inspect and secure tie-downs.

Water. This is typically one of the first items to vanish from stores. If you can’t find any, create your own supply. You can fill pitchers, empty milk jugs or soda bottles, and even gallon-size freezer bags. Also, scour your tubs and fill them as a source of water for pets and for cleaning.

Remember to include your pets. Know your rights. Congress passed the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act after Hurricane Katrina, which means people under evacuation orders cannot be turned away from shelters because of pets. Mention this law to hotels when making reservations to ensure they are pet-friendly. Prepare a pet-survival kit to take with you, which includes a carrier, proper ID and collar, medi­cations, proof of vaccination and rabies tags for dogs or cats, at least a 14-day supply of dry food, water and food bowls and other supplies your animals will need.

Some websites with information about hurricane prep:

  • The South Carolina Emergency Management Division’s latest hurricane guide:
  • Printed copies of the guide are also available at Department of Motor Vehicles offices in coastal counties, at South Carolina welcome centers, and at Walgreens’ stores.
  • American Red Cross publishes a concise hurricane prep checklist.
  • More detailed guides are available at the Red Cross website.
  • FEMA even offers a free app that gives weather alerts from the Na­tional Weather Service for up to five locations across the country. It also locates open shelters, offers safety tips, an area for disaster reporting, maps, and a section on how to apply for assistance. It is available in Spanish and English. It is free in the App Store for Apple devices and Google Play for Android devices.
  • Visit the National Hurricane Center at

Hurricane prayer

O Heavenly Father, all the elements of nature obey Your commands, including hurricanes. Calm the storms that threaten us and turn our fear of Your power into praise of Your goodness. Grant this through Our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

Photo, Deirdre C. Mays/Miscellany: Clouds gather over the Charleston area.