Weather in our community can be as threatening and dangerous as it is beautiful. Your United Way is here to help you prepare for hurricanes and other major emergencies. Hurricane season is from June 1 – November 30, with the peak occurring between mid-August and late October.
We are committed to ensuring the safety of Southwest Alabama and we’re calling on you to prepare with us. Knowing your risk, getting prepared, and staying informed are just a few steps you can take to get ready for hurricane season.
HURRICANE WATCH VS. HURRICANE WARNING
Hurricane watch = conditions possible within the next 48 hrs.
Steps to take:
- Review your evacuation route(s)
- Monitor TV or radio for official information on the storm.
- Fuel family vehicles.
- Prepare to cover all window and door openings with shutters or plywood.
- Bring lawn furniture and other loose objects indoors.
- Withdraw cash.
- Turn refrigerator and freezer to coolest settings and store drinking water.
- Make arrangements for pets.
- Review the items in your disaster supply kit; and add items to meet the household needs for children, parents, individuals with disabilities or other access and functional needs or pets.
Hurricane warning = conditions are expected within 36 hrs.
Steps to take:
- Listen constantly to TV or radio for official instructions.
- Follow evacuation orders from local officials, if given.
- Check-in with family and friends by texting or using social media.
- Store valuables and personal papers in a waterproof container on the highest level of your home.
- Follow the hurricane timeline preparedness checklist, depending on when the storm is anticipated to hit and the impact that is projected for your location.
- If power is lost, turn off major appliances to reduce power surge when electricity is restored.
Know Your Risk:
- Search for general information about risks in Alabama
- Check out NOAA’s historical hurricane tracks tool to check the severity and frequency of past hurricanes in your area.
Take action now to be prepared for hurricane season. As the storm approaches, it is often too late to get ready. Make sure you have family evacuation and communications plans, update your emergency supply kit, and evaluate your flood insurance needs.
- Know your zone. Evacuations are more common than people realize. Make yourself familiar with your community’s evacuation zones, so you’ll know exactly where to go. Remember: if a hurricane threatens your community and local officials say it’s time to evacuate, don’t hesitate — go early.
- Complete a family communication plan. Plan how you will assemble your family and loved ones, and anticipate where you will go for different situations. Get together with your family and agree on the ways to contact one another in an emergency, identify meeting locations, and make a Family Emergency Communication Plan.
- Download the FEMA app. The FEMA App includes disaster resources, weather alerts, safety tips, and a new feature that will enable users to receive push notifications to their devices to prepare their homes and families for disasters. The app also provides a customizable checklist of emergency supplies, maps of open shelters and recovery centers, tips on how to survive disasters, and weather alerts from the National Weather Service.
- Download the Red Cross Hurricane app. Monitor hurricane conditions in your local area, throughout the storm track, and let others know you are safe even if the power is out. This app is available via the Apple App Store or Google Play; or text “GETCANE” to 90999.
- Check your insurance coverage. Many states have increased deductibles for hurricanes and not all hurricane-related losses are covered under traditional policies. Most homeowner’s insurance policies do not cover damage or losses from flooding. Review your policy, ensure you’re adequately covered and understand exclusions, and contact your agent for any changes. If you’re not insured against flood, talk to your agent or visit www.floodsmart.gov. Renter’s insurance policies are also available and should be considered as a way of protecting your belongings.
- Know where to go for trusted sources of information during a hurricane event.
- Track the hurricane with NOAA
- Monitor local news for hurricane watches and warnings in your area and follow directions of local officials.
- Make sure you have a battery-operated or hand-crank radio available should the power go out.
Actions to Take:
- Let Your Family Know You’re Safe. If we experienced a disaster, register on the American Red Cross Safe and Well website to let your family and friends know you are safe. You may also call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) and select the prompt for “Disaster” to register yourself and your family.
- Listen to local officials for updates and instructions.
- If you evacuated, return home only when officials say it is safe.
- Once home, drive only if necessary and avoid flooded roads and washed-out bridges. If you must go out, watch for fallen objects in the road, downed electrical wires, and weakened walls, bridges, roads and sidewalks that might collapse.
- Walk carefully around the outside of your home to check for loose power lines, gas leaks and structural damage.
- Stay out of any building if you smell gas, if floodwaters remain around the building or if the building or home was damaged by fire and the authorities have not declared it safe.
- Carbon monoxide poisoning is one of the leading causes of death after storms in areas dealing with power outages. Never use a portable generator inside your home or garage. Review generator safety.
- Open windows and doors to ventilate and dry your home.
- Use battery-powered flashlights. Do NOT use candles. Turn on your flashlight before entering a vacated building. The battery could produce a spark that could ignite leaking gas, if present.
- Watch out for tornadoes, which are often produced by hurricanes and can cause much of the destruction.
- Use telephone for emergency calls only.
- Beware of snakes, insects, and animals driven to higher ground by flood water.
- Take pictures of damage, both to the house and its contents, for insurance claims.
HOW TO GET HELP:
The following agencies offer relief and recovery assistance:
- The Salvation Army of Coastal Alabama
- American Red Cross South Alabama Chapter
- Mobile County Emergency Management Agency
- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
- FEMA provides housing assistance to individuals and families who have lost their homes as a result of a presidentially-declared disaster. By law, FEMA assistance cannot duplicate the assistance you receive from your insurance company. If your home was impacted by a major disaster we recommend that you apply for assistance.
To find an emergency shelter: Locate options by zip code by visiting the American Red Cross, or Salvation Army, or by texting SHELTER and your zip code (for example, “SHELTER 01234”) to 4FEMA (43362). (Standard text message rates apply.)
Contact your local emergency management agency for help or referral to trusted disaster assistance partners serving your area.The FEMA Helpline (1-800-621-3362) may be able to provide additional referrals.
HOW TO GIVE HELP:
- Donate funds to help with the recovery process
- Following a disaster, the best way to get help to those who need it – fast – is to donate money that agencies working in the affected areas can distribute.
- Give to United Way – after a disaster or any time of year, you can make a gift online here and help us improve lives where help is needed most.
- Volunteer through Volunteer Connect
- At United Way Volunteer Connect, our role is to help in the coordination of Spontaneous Unaffiliated Volunteers and to help support the relief effort of State and Federal relief organizations and VOADs. We do this by maintaining a database of volunteers willing to serve in times of disaster, and by providing a central place for volunteer organizations to post the needs they’ve identified as most critical to the community following a disaster.