Hurricane Preparation and Survival

Hurricane Preparation and Survival


Hurricane Impacts

When you are threatened by a catastrophic (category 4/5) hurricane you can expect life will drastically change for weeks or months – perhaps longer.

There are some situations where, “discretion is the better part of valor”, facing a catastrophic hurricane is one of those situations.


Hurricane Categories

As with tornadoes, hurricanes have 5 categories: [Note: the following are taken directly from the National Hurricane Center’s website.]

  • Category 1:
    • Wind speed: 74-95 mph, 64-82 kt, 119-153 km/h
    • Very dangerous winds will produce some damage: Well-constructed frame homes could have damage to roof, shingles, vinyl siding and gutters. Large branches of trees will snap and shallowly rooted trees may be toppled. Extensive damage to power lines and poles likely will result in power outages that could last a few to several days.
  • Category 2:
    • Wind speed: 96-110 mph, 83-95 kt, 154-177 km/h
    • Extremely dangerous winds will cause extensive damage: Well-constructed frame homes could sustain major roof and siding damage. Many shallowly rooted trees will be snapped or uprooted and block numerous roads. Near-total power loss is expected with outages that could last from several days to weeks.
  • Category 3: (Major)
    • Wind speed: 111-129 mph, 96-112 kt, 178-208 km/h
    • Devastating damage will occur: Well-built framed homes may incur major damage or removal of roof decking and gable ends. Many trees will be snapped or uprooted, blocking numerous roads. Electricity and water will be unavailable for several days to weeks after the storm passes.
  • Category 4: (Major)
    • Wind speed: 130-156 mph, 113-136 kt, 209-251 km/h
    • Catastrophic damage will occur: Well-built framed homes can sustain severe damage with loss of most of the roof structure and/or some exterior walls. Most trees will be snapped or uprooted and power poles downed. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.
  • Category 5: (Major)
    • Wind speed: 157 mph or higher, 137 kt or higher, 252 km/h or higher
    • Catastrophic damage will occur: A high percentage of framed homes will be destroyed, with total roof failure and wall collapse. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last for weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.


Hurricane Impacts

Hurricanes cause significant damage along the coast from their winds, massive waves and flooding (heavy rain). Inland, damage is from the wind, flooding from heavy rain, and possible tornadoes.

Unlike tornadoes, hurricanes can linger in an area for extended periods of time. This causes extensive rainfall which can trigger flash floods, and mudslides.


During a hurricane expect the power to go out. In all likelihood the power will be off for several weeks perhaps even months after the storm has passed. Generators may help for a time, but will likely not last for the entire duration depending on how much damage the storm caused.


If you use a generator ensure to follow the prescribed manner the manufacture recommends the generator be operated. Never! Operate a generator indoors! Carbon monoxide is an odorless gas that can cause death.


Businesses will be unable to operate for at least a short period of time during and after a hurricane has passed. It is possible they could be down for an extended period of time depending on how much damage they sustain.


Toilets will be unavailable or inoperable.


Water will be unavailable. Electricity needed to operate the pumps or to clean the water will not be available. Surface water can be contaminated by chemicals, sewage, and/or petroleum products.



            Best Case

If at all possible the best way to “ride out” a hurricane is to evacuate the area projected to be in or near the path of the storm. The extent of a hurricane can extend out several miles. At the time of this writing Hurricane Florence is 500-miles wide.


In some instances we may be able to keep “Mother Nature” in check. A hurricane, especially one greater than a category 3 is not something we can fight. We will lose!


Optimally, the best preparation before a hurricane is to be ready to move to a place safely out of the hurricane’s path. Typically, would not be directly inland. The safest place would be north or south of the storm’s path.


Ensure you move far enough away to get out of the impact area of the storm. A hurricane can cause extreme flooding inland due to the heavy rain potential.


            Shelter in place

If you must “ride out” the storm by sheltering in place, move to a location that is as high as possible. Under no circumstances should you take shelter in a basement or underground structure if you live along the coast. Storm surge, heavy rain and wave action could flood the shelter.


The structure you move to should be made of concrete or concrete blocks filled with concrete. “Stick built” homes will not survive a category 3 or higher hurricane, especially if they are in the direct path of the storm. Even if they do survive they will likely suffer severe damage.



Store enough food and water for at least 3 months. [Most government emergency planning sites say 3 days, but that is based on the assumption that “help” will arrive within 3 days. Do not count on that happening.]



Optimally, you need 3 gallons of water per person in your household per day. Additionally, fill your bathtubs up prior to or during the storm. Use this water to clean and for personal hygiene.


It may be possible to use this water to flush the toilets. Keep in mind due to water height or pressure the toilets may not work.



Secure a composting toilet to use during the storm and after until utilities are restored.



Store enough food to have at least 2 meals per day per person as a minimum. It is a good idea to also store nuts, trail mix, etc for snacks.



Have at least 2-battery or crank-powered radios. The radio can provide a measure of comfort by keeping you informed as to what is going on and how the government is reacting to your situation.



The preferred light is battery powered, preferably powered by rechargeable batteries ( Candles and lanterns are okay, but require extra care to prevent fires. In the case of the lantern it also requires an additional resource – gas. Additionally, in the event of a natural gas or gasoline leak the open flame may ignite the gas fumes.



Stock up on ready wipes, diaper wipes, disinfecting wipes, etc. Use these to take sponge baths and to maintain healthy sanitation. Sickness and diseases often following a large-scale natural disaster such as a hurricane.



Set aside extra clothes along with your readiness supplies. The clothes should be thick, sturdy “work-type clothes”. It may seem silly, but if something were to happen to the section of your shelter where your clothes are located, or for some reason you cannot reach that area having clean, dry clothes available will be a comfort and help you to maintain a healthy body.



Consider storing board games, cards, dice, etc along with your readiness supplies to help pass the time.



Have enough blankets so every individual can have at least one blanket each. It is preferred that each individual have 2 blankets each.


Final word

This post is a short, quick post to help you prepare for the potential calamity Hurricane Florence may bring. The weather folks are saying this could occur as early as late Friday night (14 Sep), but will more likely occur in the early hours of Saturday morning (6 a.m. 15 Sep).


Do not wait until the water is coming up around you to make a decision to move out of the way. By then it is likely too late. Sometimes the best plan is to plan to not be there when an event occurs. This would be one of those times.


If you have question or need advice, contact us at Great Living Sources and we will help you any way we can.


References: Hurricane Florence could be a lot like Harvey


Hurricane Florence could strengthen to life threatening category 5


Rechargeable Batteries

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