The start to the 2022 hurricane season has been fairly quiet. The average date of the first hurricane is Aug. 11, but for the first time in seven years, no hurricane has formed in the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, or the Gulf of Mexico by Aug. 15. As with many storm seasons, the weather can be unpredictable. We shouldn’t let the quiet start to the season fool us as experts are still predicting an active remainder.
The National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is monitoring two disturbances in the central Atlantic as of Saturday night. The first disturbance has a 50 percent chance of formation within five days, according to the National Hurricane Center, and the second has a 20 percent chance.
During these quiet times, it is essential to not let our guard down and stay prepared. Hurricanes can affect lives as well as damage property. Being prepared can help you, your family or your congregation minimize the impact of the storm. The best time to start is before the threat is imminent. Here’s 4 steps you can take to stay prepared:
Have an evacuation plan
If you live on the coast, you may have to evacuate in the event of a major storm forecast for your area. Although you may receive instructions from the local government, it’s wise to create your evacuation plan well before a disaster strikes. This way, you can know ahead of time how to reach the nearest shelters quickly, take others into account in your plan, and secure important papers.
Stock up emergency supplies
See this helpful resource list from the Florida Division of Emergency management.
Take inventory of property
Creating a property inventory will help ensure that there is enough property insurance to replace possessions. It can also speed financial processes and is helpful in the case that further financial aid is needed. Take pictures or video when possible. If you need to evacuate, be sure to include your inventory among the important documents you take with you or store it in the cloud.
Take steps to protect property
While making property more resilient to protect against storm damage is undoubtedly an investment, you can do it in stages:
- Replace gravel or rock landscaping materials with shredded bark
- Cut weak branches and trees that could fall on property and keep shrubbery trimmed.
- Install storm shutters to protect windows from breakage. Alternately, fit plywood panels to windows, which can be nailed to window frames when a storm approaches.
- Ensure exterior doors are wind-rated to withstand strong hurricane winds.
- Sliding glass doors should be made of tempered glass and, during a storm, covered with shutters or plywood.
- Seal outside wall openings such as vents, outdoor electrical outlets, garden hose bibs, and locations where cables or pipes go through the wall.
Also see this article for when a hurricane is imminent.
The Florida-Bahamas Synod and Lutheran Disaster Response have prepared specific documents that outline all of the above steps in detail. Please visit fbsynod.com/disaster-response for more resources. Also download the disaster plan template (need link to updated document) and congregational preparedness guide here.
It is the hope that this guide can help leadership in congregations not only be prepared to open church doors, but be ready and willing to faithfully do so. For further assistance, please contact Stephen Garcia, the Director of Disaster Response for the Florida-Bahamas Synod at firstname.lastname@example.org.