PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Hurricane season begins officially June 1 and brings with it a heightened threat of flooding for New Jersey residents through summer and fall. ?A well thought out plan can be your best defense against flooding or other natural or man-made disasters,? said Lt. George Georgeles, New Jersey state coordinating officer. He urges residents of the state to draw on recent experience with flooding from the April nor?easter to prepare for possible hurricane winds and high water.
?Now is the time to prepare for one of these large and unpredictable tropical weather systems while supplies are readily available and while you can involve family and friends in the process,? said Peter Martinasco, federal coordinating officer for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security?s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). ?Hurricanes are worrisome to disaster management officials,? he said, ?because they can affect wide areas and large populations, straining relief efforts.? He noted that families and individuals should be prepared to sustain themselves during and immediately after a major storm, when local, state and federal relief efforts may be unable to reach them.
People in coastal areas may be vulnerable to hurricane surges where large amounts of seawater pushed by high winds can move well inland, inundating low-lying areas along bays and rivers. Evacuation to higher ground is often the only defense against a hurricane surge, historically the most deadly and destructive aspect of these storms. Once a hurricane moves inland, torrential rain falling at a rate of up to several inches per hour may cause rivers and other drainage courses to overflow and flood extensive areas, again causing wide-spread evacuations.
Evacuation plans should be a top priority for people in flood prone areas.
- Plan how you will leave and where you will go if evacuation is necessary.
- If a car is your means of evacuation, keep it well maintained and with at least a half tank of gas at all times.
- If you do not have a car, plan alternate means of evacuating.
- Identify in advance several places outside the danger area where you could go in an emergency?a friend or relative?s home, a motel or a public shelter.
- Take pets with you or make other arrangements for their safety and care during an evacuation. Remember that only service animals may be permitted in public shelters.
- Bring cash and a kit of emergency supplies including food, water and medicines.
Secure your property before storm conditions arrive.
- Cover your home?s windows with pre-cut plywood or hurricane shutters to protect against high winds and blowing debris.
- Secure or bring indoors all outdoor furniture, decorations, garbage cans and anything else that might blow away.
- Keep trees and shrubs well trimmed.
- Familiarize yourself with the terms of hurricane advisories. A hurricane watch means a hurricane threatens your area. Monitor radio and television news or listen to NOAA Weather Radio for the latest developments. A hurricane warning means the storm is expected to hit your area. If local authorities advise you to evacuate, leave immediately.
- Be alert for tornadoes and flooding that accompany hurricanes. If you see a funnel cloud or if authorities issue a tornado warning, take shelter underground if possible or in an interior room away from windows. Seek higher ground if waters are rising quickly or if local authorities issue a flood warning.
- Do not return to your home until local authorities say it is safe. After hurricane waters recede, roads could be weakened or washed out and buildings cou...