The Cumberland County area, particularly Fayetteville, has seen its fair share of torrential storms. Every hurricane season, we glue our eyes to the TVs for a week or two and listen intently to our radios to hear predictions of strong wind gusts and heavy rains. With hurricane season in full swing now, and being that it occurs every year, now is a perfect time to make sure you, your family and your property are prepared for a coming storm.

Although hurricanes hit the coast hardest, many locals can still recall the effects of Hurricane Hazel in 1954, Hurricane Fran in September 1996 and, in more recent years, Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Matthew, to name a few. Aside from the damage done by the storms, being close to the Cape Fear River has been a concern in the past because of flooding. When Florence hit, many people were evacuated from their neighborhoods, and the Person Street Bridge had to close temporarily for the first time ever because the waters rose so dangerously high.

Hurricane season started June 1 and continues through early September. Rather than living in fear of a potential storm, citizens can find peace in knowing that there are simple precautions that can keep them and their property safe in the event of a natural disaster.

Firstly, it’s important to establish a communication plan. If a storm hit Fayetteville hard and your family was separated from each other, a contact out of town would be crucial. It is not uncommon for family members to be separated during natural disasters. Plan a spot to meet with loved ones in a more dire instance. Although it would be ideal to keep accessibility in mind, a hurricane can quickly change the convenience of travel, and having a central meeting place might be all you can count on.

Having that spot to meet will not mean much without a plan of how to evacuate and get there. While a GPS device on a cellphone might be helpful usually, in the case that there is no cell coverage, consider keeping an updated map on hand. Don’t wait until there is a crisis to practice your plan. When you have your map and a route in mind, consider driving it and coming up with backup plans for traveling to your designated evacuation location, in case the roads you initially planned on are inaccessible. You’ll also want to make sure your gas tank is full before the storm hits.

Having an escape plan will help keep you and your family safe and together, but don’t forget to take precautions in bracing your home for strong winds and heavy rains.

Check to see if your roof needs repairs. If shingles are damaged or loose, you’re going to be more at risk for property damage. Check your shingles and unclog gutters and downspouts.

Trimming greenery in the areas surrounding structure on the property is a must, and if there are any loose items in the front or backyard, pick them up.

Make sure you and everyone dwelling at your residence know how to turn off the electricity, water and gas.

When possible, secure breakable and heavy objects in cabinets and drawers; additionally secure water heaters and other major appliances.
Installing a smoke detector on each floor of your house is a good precaution year-round — also keep a fire extinguisher on hand.
In addition to the safeguards for your home, here are some tips for a survival kit.

Many people are familiar, when any bad weather sweeps in, with the rush at the grocery store to stock up on bottled water. When the water is cleared from the shelves, the search can feel desperate. One way to accomplish this, even if you have an unsuccessful trip to the store, is to fill up reusable water bottles, tupperware containers or zipper storage bags that are on hand before the storm moves further inland. It’s a good idea to keep a gallon of water per person in the household for three-seven days. Nonperishable foods, including canned goods, snacks, special foods for infants or the elderly and utensils and a can opener are all critical for a survival kit. Although it is better to be overprepared than underprepared, remember that many stores will have to throw out bottled water and food if you buy more than what you’ll need and try to return it after the threat has passed.

A first-aid kit might sound like a no-brainer to some, but be sure to include prescription medications in your supply. Having all medical supplies in the same, easy-to-access place might save you trouble later.

For your furry friends — or nonhuman family members — include food, medications, a leash, cage, a tag with their ID, etc. in the survival kit.
Other items like toiletries, clothing items, blankets and pillows are helpful. Think about what you would use in a typical day or week. Of those items, what would you need most? And, in the case of emergency, which items would you want that you might not need daily? A phone and charger, cash/cards, keys for vehicles/buildings/safety deposit boxes, insurance policies, a driver’s license, Social Security cards and tools might come to mind. Secure paperwork in a waterproof container. A flashlight and radio aside from what is in your car or phone may come in handy.

To keep up with what’s happening locally before, during and after storms, and to find helpful resources, visit https://www.fayettevillenc.gov/city-services/corporate-communications/public-information/storm-information-center for the City of Fayetteville’s storm information center, https://www.co.cumberland.nc.us/emergencyservices/hurricane-florence-information for Cumberland County’s resources and https://www.faypwc.com/storm-central/ for Fayetteville’s Public Works Commission’s resources.

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