Get Ready For Hurricane Season

After the record setting year we had in 2005 and predictions that the 2006 season could hold more of the same, everyone in the hurricane ravaged areas along the Gulf Coast is on edge. Everyone along the Gulf Coast and the East Coast all the way to New England should begin preparing for the possibility that a hurricane could make landfall in their area. Some of the things that one should do to prepare include putting together an evacuation kit that includes the following: Two flashlights with extra batteries, a battery operated radio, NOAA radio, sanitary supplies, pencils, notepads, drinks, juices, nuts, dried beans, rice, pasta, soups, peanut butter, crackers, canned foods, one gallon of water per day per person, first aid kit and handbook, prescription medicines, aspirin, paper towels, cloth bath towels, blankets, change of clothes, foul weather gear, Sterno stove and fuel, matches, pocket knife, cooking utensils, cooking pot, disposable dishes, silverware, and aluminum foil, plastic garbage bags, money, and all of your important documents in waterproof plastic bags or containers. You should also make sure that you have things prepared for your pets. Identify shelters, gather pet supplies, and make sure that your pet has proper ID and up to date veterinarian records.

Decide ahead of time what type of protection you will use for your home. Permanent storm shutters are recommended with a secondary option of using marine grade 5/8" plywood cut to fit your windows and ready to install. Take photos or video of your property from all angles so that you will have something to back up your case with the insurance company.

Let friends and family know whether you intend to evacuate or not and if you are evacuating let them know where you will be. This is one of the biggest problems after a hurricane. People are counted as lost who have just not let anyone know where they are. The names for the storms of the Atlantic Hurricane Season of 2006 are as follows: Alberto Beryl Chris Debby Ernesto Florence Gordon Helene Isaac Joyce Kirk Leslie Michael Nadine Oscar Patty Rafael Sandy Tony Valerie William You should also be aware of the scale of hurricane intensity called the Saffir Simpson Scale: The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale is a 1-5 rating based on the hurricane's present intensity.

This is used to give an estimate of the potential property damage and flooding expected along the coast from a hurricane landfall. Wind speed is the determining factor in the scale, as storm surge values are highly dependent on the slope of the continental shelf and the shape of the coastline, in the landfall region. Note that all winds are using the U.S. 1-minute average. Category One Hurricane: Winds 74-95 mph (64-82 kt or 119-153 km/hr).

Storm surge generally 4-5 ft above normal. No real damage to building structures. Damage primarily to unanchored mobile homes, shrubbery, and trees. Some damage to poorly constructed signs.

Also, some coastal road flooding and minor pier damage. Hurricane Lili of 2002 made landfall on the Louisiana coast as a Category One hurricane. Hurricane Gaston of 2004 was a Category One hurricane that made landfall along the central South Carolina coast. Category Two Hurricane: Winds 96-110 mph (83-95 kt or 154-177 km/hr).

Storm surge generally 6-8 feet above normal. Some roofing material, door, and window damage of buildings. Considerable damage to shrubbery and trees with some trees blown down. Considerable damage to mobile homes, poorly constructed signs, and piers. Coastal and low-lying escape routes flood 2-4 hours before arrival of the hurricane center. Small craft in unprotected anchorages break moorings.

Hurricane Frances of 2004 made landfall over the southern end of Hutchinson Island, Florida as a Category Two hurricane. Hurricane Isabel of 2003 made landfall near Drum Inlet on the Outer Banks of North Carolina as a Category 2 hurricane. Category Three Hurricane: Winds 111-130 mph (96-113 kt or 178-209 km/hr). Storm surge generally 9-12 ft above normal. Some structural damage to small residences and utility buildings with a minor amount of curtainwall failures. Damage to shrubbery and trees with foliage blown off trees and large trees blown down.

Mobile homes and poorly constructed signs are destroyed. Low-lying escape routes are cut by rising water 3-5 hours before arrival of the center of the hurricane. Flooding near the coast destroys smaller structures with larger structures damaged by battering from floating debris. Terrain continuously lower than 5 ft above mean sea level may be flooded inland 8 miles (13 km) or more.

Evacuation of low-lying residences with several blocks of the shoreline may be required. Hurricanes Jeanne and Ivan of 2004 were Category Three hurricanes when they made landfall in Florida and in Alabama, respectively. Category Four Hurricane: Winds 131-155 mph (114-135 kt or 210-249 km/hr).

Storm surge generally 13-18 ft above normal. More extensive curtainwall failures with some complete roof structure failures on small residences. Shrubs, trees, and all signs are blown down. Complete destruction of mobile homes. Extensive damage to doors and windows.

Low-lying escape routes may be cut by rising water 3-5 hours before arrival of the center of the hurricane. Major damage to lower floors of structures near the shore. Terrain lower than 10 ft above sea level may be flooded requiring massive evacuation of residential areas as far inland as 6 miles (10 km). Hurricane Charley of 2004 was a Category Four hurricane made landfall in Charlotte County, Florida with winds of 150 mph. Hurricane Dennis of 2005 struck the island of Cuba as a Category Four hurricane. Category Five Hurricane: Winds greater than 155 mph (135 kt or 249 km/hr).

Storm surge generally greater than 18 ft above normal. Complete roof failure on many residences and industrial buildings. Some complete building failures with small utility buildings blown over or away. All shrubs, trees, and signs blown down.

Complete destruction of mobile homes. Severe and extensive window and door damage. Low-lying escape routes are cut by rising water 3-5 hours before arrival of the center of the hurricane. Major damage to lower floors of all structures located less than 15 ft above sea level and within 500 yards of the shoreline. Massive evacuation of residential areas on low ground within 5-10 miles (8-16 km) of the shoreline may be required.

Only 3 Category Five Hurricanes have made landfall in the United States since records began: The Labor Day Hurricane of 1935, Hurricane Camille (1969), and Hurricane Andrew in August, 1992. The 1935 Labor Day Hurricane struck the Florida Keys with a minimum pressure of 892 mb--the lowest pressure ever observed in the United States. Hurricane Camille struck the Mississippi Gulf Coast causing a 25-foot storm surge, which inundated Pass Christian. Hurricane Andrew of 1992 made landfall over southern Miami-Dade County, Florida causing 26.5 billion dollars in losses--the costliest hurricane on record.

In addition, Hurricane Gilbert of 1988 was a Category Five hurricane at peak intensity and is the strongest Atlantic tropical cyclone on record with a minimum pressure of 888 mb. Don't wait until the last minute, get your supplies ahead of time and be prepared. And don't try to be a hero and ride it out, take that from someone who rode out Hurricane Ivan about one mile from the beach! We watched the tiles from our roof cover the yard and then got to experience our roof caving in and water pouring in from the rain.

Gregg Hall is a business consultant and author for many online and offline businesses and lives in Navarre Florida. Get the latesthurricane newsat

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