The Atlantic Hurricane Season is from June 1st to November 30th, with a peak occurring between mid-August and late October. The Eastern North Pacific hurricane season runs from May 15th through November 30th. During this time, many parts of the United States experience heavy rains, strong winds, floods, and storm surge.
When it comes to hurricanes, coastal communities aren’t the only ones at risk. Inland flooding can be a major threat to communities hundreds of miles from the coast. Flooding continues to be the most common and costly natural disaster in the United States, and it can happen anywhere. The 2017 hurricane season was especially destructive, resulting in more than 125,000 flood insurance claims for losses resulting from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.
Being fully prepared for hurricane season means knowing your risk and taking steps to protect your family, home, and community. It also means taking action to safeguard your home, and can result in a quicker journey to recovery after a storm.
Know Your Risk
Everyone lives in an area with some risk of flooding. To better understand your risk, you can visit the National Flood Hazard Layer (NFHL).
You can also visit the official in your community who maintains the flood maps and elevation certificates. They may work in the local planning and zoning office or in the building department. Flood risk changes for many reasons, so make sure that you are aware of changes in your community that could impact your flood risk. Just because an area did not flood in the last storm, does not mean it is not still at risk of flooding in the next storm.
Your local hazard mitigation plan can also provide an idea of what is most at risk in a natural disaster, and indicate what is most important to protect immediately before a storm. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) requires local governments to have a FEMA approved hazard mitigation plan in place as a condition for receiving certain types of non-emergency disaster assistance.
Protect Your Home
Your home is an investment; protect it. Here are several ways to reduce your risk ahead of hurricane season:
- Protect your property by purchasing flood insurance. Visit FloodSmart.gov or contact your insurance agent
- If your home is in a low- or moderate-risk flood zone, purchasing a flood insurance policy is highly recommended. More than 25 percent of all National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) flood insurance claims come from areas outside of an identified high-risk flood area
- Consider taking pictures and saving documentation of valuables and electronics for any claims you may need to make later
- Consider the following actions in the days before a storm to protect your home:
- Safeguard important paperwork and move furniture, rugs, electronics, and other valuable belongings off the ground floor
- Trim or remove damaged trees and limbs
- Activate flood protection devices, i.e., turn on sump pumps and close backflow valves
- Secure and clean rain gutters and downspouts, and clear any clogged areas or debris
- Ensure your neighborhood street gutter is free from built-up leaves and debris. Contact your local Public Works Department for additional information
- Deploy temporary flood barriers, such as portable flood gates or shields, sandbags, inflatable floodwalls, and flood skirts, and ensure this is done properly as to not cause flooding to other nearby properties
- Secure furniture and other items outside of your home so they do not cause additional damage
- Seal cracks and gaps around doors, windows, pipes to prevent water from getting in
- Consider the following actions well before a storm to reduce your risk and/or the impact of the storm:
- Elevate your utilities above your Base Flood Elevation (BFE)
- Replace your carpeting with tile for easier cleanup and less damage
- Use flood resistant insulation and drywall to make cleanup easier
- Install flood vents in foundation walls, garages and other enclosed areas to reduce structural damage to foundation
- Reinforce garage doors and double entry doors to reduce wind damage
- Install storm shutters to protect windows and glass doors from flying debris
- For more information on mitigation options, visit our page on protecting your property