June 1st marked the official beginning of hurricane season, which runs through November 30th. This year, forecasters with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are predicting a 60 percent chance we will see an above-average hurricane season. Specifically, they are projecting 13 to 19 named storms–the first three named storms of the season, Arthur, Bertha, and Cristobal have already occurred. Of those projected named storms, six to 10 are projected to be hurricanes and of those, three to six are expected to be classified as major hurricanes, which are category 3 and above.
The City of Alexandria encourages residents to start making preparations now to be ready for any potential hurricanes that may impact Louisiana. “I know the longtime residents of Alexandria are used to the annual hurricane season, and many have a routine down for making preparations, but things are different this year,” noted Alexandria Mayor Jeffrey W. Hall. “COVID-19 has changed everything, and that includes how we plan and prepare to respond to natural disasters like hurricanes. Depending on what the social distancing requirements are at the time, we may have to change the way we approach offering shelters and how we handle evacuations.”
Director of Utilities Michael Marcotte agreed, adding, “Sheltering this season will not look like it has in the past. As part of their preparations, residents who live in vulnerable areas, and particularly those in mobile homes, should consider making arrangements for sheltering through a friend or relative as part of their personal plan.”
In addition, with supply chain issues that have been caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, some standard supplies may be harder to find than in the past. Some basic preparations residents should make now include:
- Create a family emergency plan: This includes having contact numbers, setting an agreed meeting point and making sure all family members know what to do if a hurricane is imminent.
- Gather supplies: Recommended supplies include flashlights with spare batteries, a battery-powered radio, non-perishable food and water to last for three days, a can opener, garbage bags, personal hygiene items, basic medical supplies, fully-charged battery packs to recharge cell phones and all required medications.
- Identify evacuation routes: Know what route you would plan to take should you have to leave your home.
- Protect important documents: Ensure insurance is up to date and that important papers stored at home (birth certificates, vehicle titles, etc.) are stored in sturdy, water-tight containers.
- Secure your home: Clear drains and gutters, ensure loose items are repaired and consider storm shutters for windows.
For a comprehensive guide to preparing for hurricane season, visit the state emergency preparation website at www.getagameplan.org or the U.S. government site at www.ready.gov.