Hurricane Emergency Preparedness and Resident Communications (2022 Updates)

Written by CivicPlus

Hurricane severity is on the rise. Learn how to keep residents informed before, during, and after a deadly event.

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The Colorado State University Tropical Meteorology Project team predicts a “well above-normal” Atlantic hurricane season. The team predicts 20 named storms, including 10 named storms, of which five are forecast to be major. Such predictions are stress-inducing for government public safety leaders that have waded through the storm recovery process in the recent past. With community infrastructure, financial resources, staffing implications, and risks to human life on the line, public safety leaders need a strategic business continuity and response plan in place that is ready to implement if disaster strikes.

2022 Hurricane Season Impact (Updated September 2022)

Of the 21 Atlantic Storm names established for the 2022 season, the following have already been assigned:

Tropical Storm Alex
On June 5, Tropical Storm Alex formed about 690 miles west-southwest of Bermuda and weakened to a post-tropical cyclone the following day.

Tropical Storm Bonnie
On July 1, Tropical Storm Bonnie formed in the southern Caribbean and hmade landfall near the border between Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

Tropical Storm Colin
on July 2, Tropical Storm Colin formed near the South Carolina coast. It dissipated over eastern North Carolina the following day.

Hurricane Danielle
September 1, 2022 - Tropical Storm Danielle forms in the North Atlantic.
September 2, 2022 - Strengthens into a hurricane, making it the first hurricane of the season.
September 3, 2022 - Weakens to a tropical storm but strengthens back into a hurricane later in the day.

Hurricane Earl
On September 2, Tropical Storm Earl formed south near the Caribbean. It strengthened into a hurricane on September 6 but was downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone on September 10.

Hurricane Fiona
On September 14, Tropical Storm Fiona formed 625 miles east of the Leeward Islands. Four days later it strengthened into a Category 1 hurricane, 50 miles south of Puerto Rico with maximum sustained winds of 80 mph.

Communities at Risk

According to NOAA, 88 percent of major hurricane strikes in our nation’s history have hit Florida or Texas, and 40 percent of all U.S. hurricanes have hit Florida.

According to an article from the USA Today, the ten U.S. counties most vulnerable to hurricanes include:

  • Desoto, FL
  • Houston (County), TX
  • Polk, TX
  • Issaquena, MS
  • Highlands, FL
  • Avoyelles, LA
  • Walker, TX
  • Wilkinson, MS
  • Glades, FL
  • Kemper, MS

While coastal and southern coastal communities are most at risk of a hurricane, even the almost entirely landlocked state of Pennsylvania once fell victim to a hurricane back in 1898. Other states that have taken a direct hurricane hit since 1851 include:

  • Alabama
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Mississippi
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Texas
  • Virginia

If your city, county, township, or other municipality is located near the coast in any of these states, review our hurricane preparedness resident communication tips below.

Hurricane Preparedness Resident Communications

Each year, at the start of hurricane season, distribute the following hurricane safety reminder communications to your residents:

Hurricane Safety Preparedness

  • Know if you are in an evacuation zone, and know your evacuation route(s).
  • Assess your home to determine if it is vulnerable to flooding, storm surge, or wind damage. If it is, proactively work to make the improvements necessary to mitigate structural damage should a storm
  • Help mitigate the risk of damage to your home by removing potential hazards around your property. Trim trees, secure or store loose backyard furniture, and clear clogged rain gutters.
  • Keep a list of emergency contacts in an easy-to-find location in your home that includes local emergency management offices, local law enforcement, hospitals, utility providers, fire and rescue services, and your property insurance agent.
  • Keep emergency food and supplies stocked in your home, such as bottled water, a first aid kit, battery-operated flashlights, and canned food.
  • Sign up to receive notifications, weather warnings, and safety alerts from your local government.
  • If you are advised to evacuate, do so for your own safety and security.

Safety Tips When a Hurricane is Imminent

If you are in the imminent path of a hurricane and were not able to evacuate, follow these safety procedures:

  • Stay at home and let friends and family know your location.
  • Close storm shutters and stay away from windows.
  • Turn your refrigerator to the coldest setting and only open it when necessary to preserve food if your power goes out.
  • Ensure your vehicle is full of gas and stocked with extra clothes and emergency supplies.
  • Charge your cell phone to ensure you have as much battery life as possible if you lose power for any period of time (which could range from minutes to days).
  • Check the latest news from your local government and NOAA regularly.

Hurricane Recovery Tips

If your home has been damaged or destroyed, the recovery process will take time, but know that there are resources available to you to help ease the process of starting over. To minimize further risk to property or personal safety, follow these tips during the days immediately following a hurricane:

  • Return home only when authorities have advised it is safe to do so.
  • Beware of debris and downed power lines.
  • Avoid walking or driving through floodwaters.
  • Avoid floodwater as it may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines and may obscure dangerous debris.
  • Continue to watch and listen for updates, news, alerts, and instructions from your local government.

Local Government Emergency Communication Best Practices

If a tropical storm or hurricane is projected to impact your community, follow these emergency preparedness communication best practices:

Communicate Early and Often

For news, updates, alerts, and instructions during a natural disaster, residents will turn first to their local government leaders. Keep residents informed from the start of the event all the way through the recovery efforts. Share relevant and actionable information such as links to evacuation routes and emergency shelters, safety tips, and the latest news and updates on the recovery efforts.

Maintain a Calm Tone in All Communications

Your residents will feel more confident that their community is being protected and that their safety is maintained if all your communications utilize a calm, confident, and informative tone. In addition, make sure all news, updates, and information that you distribute have been verified and validated. During an emergency event, when a variety of credible and informal sources are all sharing information rapidly, the distribution of inaccurate information may complicate safety efforts.

Use All Available Channels to Distribute Safety Information, News, and Updates

This should include social media, your government website, text messages, phone and email alerts. In addition, an emergency mass notification system can help expedite multi-channel communications.

Tap into the IPAWS Network.

Created by FEMA, the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) leverages national emergency communication channels such as emergency alert systems (EAS), wireless emergency alerts, NOAA weather radios, public TVs, and signage to provide area-specific alerts in times of emergency. It enables you to reach as many people as possible, including those who have not previously opted into emergency notifications, including visitors and nearby travelers.

By communicating preparedness and safety information to residents regularly, the number of annual hurricane casualties can be reduced. Click here for more information on how an emergency mass notification system with IPAWS can help you reach as many residents as possible with emergency news and safety instructions.