As Hurricane Irene is set to take on New York City, Washington, D.C., Boston and Philadelphia, residents who have never faced this kind of natural disaster need to be prepared for the dangerous high winds and possible flooding that such a storm — even if not at hurricane strength — can bring.
Govs. Andrew Cuomo of New York, Chris Christie of New Jersey and Bob McDonnell of Virginia already have declared states of emergency that will enable National Guard troops to spring to action for hurricane duty.
- Keep tuned in to the weather forecast, online or on the radio or TV and follow the instructions.
- Make a plan for what you will do in a major crisis and where you will go if evacuated. Make sure friends and family know the plan.
- Plan on power outages. “This storm is going to cause a large number of power outages and tree damage,” Masters said. “Millions of people should prepare to be without power for a long time.” That means if you live in a high-rise, be ready to take the stairs, in the dark; have plenty of batteries around and flashlights that work.
- Use text messaging to communicate when necessary. Those often can get through clogged systems that would preclude phone calls. But remember, many people may be trying to use telecom services for real emergencies.
- Make sure your disaster preparedness kit, or in New York as they call it, the “go bag,” includes critical supplies like canned goods, a can opener, non-perishable food, bottled water, medications and important documents.
- Stay away from windows and doors during the storm.
- Bring insider anything that is not tethered down or could get loose, such as bikes, lawn furniture, grills, garbage cans, flower pots and planters.
- If flooding does occur, don’t go out until you’re sure all electric lines have been secured and powered down.
- Make a plan for transportation needs and remember that if there is damage to major metropolitan public transportation systems, it could take days or even weeks before service is completely back to normal.
- Don’t be caught without some cash. Your ATM card may not work, your transit pass may not work, but cold, hard currency will.