On August 20, 2021, Tropical Storm Henri reached 70-mph in sustained winds, just shy of being considered a hurricane. In the most recent update, Hurricane Henri is on track to reach land in the Northeastern United States on Sunday, August 22 in New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts, all of which are now under a hurricane watch, despite the sustained wind speeds still not quite reaching hurricane level. Residents are being advised that, even if Henri does not become a full-fledged hurricane, they should expect strong winds, heavy rain and potential storm surge that could inundate land with three to five feet of water.
Whether you are in the path of the impending hurricane or not, it is essential to understand how to prepare before a hurricane hits your area, particularly as residents in the Northeast are less accustomed to hurricanes. Hurricane preparedness is just as important in the wake of a hurricane, especially if you are a victim who sustained injuries or property damage.
Preparing for Hurricane Henri
Hurricane preparedness for residents in Henri’s path should probably begin today to allow time before the storm strikes. In the U.S., hurricane season begins on May 15 in the Pacific and June 1 for the Atlantic and Caribbean, ending on November 30.
Prepare your family
Hurricane preparedness is emergency preparedness for your family. The first step is to plan ahead of time so every family member is equipped to handle a hurricane, natural disaster or another emergency.
Create a list of emergency phone numbers and place them in an easy-to-find place, like on the refrigerator. Program them on everyone’s phone, so they are readily available. Know where the closest shelter is, and map out different routes to get there from your home.
Have an emergency supply kit ready and waiting. This kit should include:
- Food and water for each family member
- Emergency medicine and first aid supplies
- Power sources, like flashlights, and extra batteries
- A fire extinguisher
- Important documents like medical records, passports, IDs or other personal identification
- Personal items such as disinfectant wipes, soap, hand sanitizer, clothes, infant and childcare supplies
- Pet supplies like a leash, collar with tags, food
You should not leave pets at home if you have to evacuate, so try to make a plan that includes a safe shelter for your furry friends. Check in with your neighbors, especially if they are elderly or disabled, to see if they need assistance with evacuation or care.
Prepare your home
With your family ready for a hurricane, it is time to focus on your house. When preparing your home for a natural disaster like a hurricane, consider:
- Reinforcing your doors and windows
- Filling or buying sandbags to limit water entering your home
- Securing outdoor furniture or move items inside
- Trimming trees that could fall on your home or a person
- Making sure your sump pump is working
- Clearing gutters so water can flow
- Sealing the exterior of your home if there are any holes from installing cables, pipe or wires
Prepare your finances
Most damage from hurricanes will typically be covered by your homeowners insurance, but it is always a good idea to check your policy jacket or call your insurance company to speak with an agent to be sure. If there is a potential for a gap in coverage, review it with your insurance company and consider updating your policy.
Unfortunately, flood insurance usually has a 30-day-waiting period, so you will not be able to purchase that right before an impending storm. If you have been considering purchasing flood insurance, it will not cover you for Henri, but you may want to buy it well before the next storm is on track to come to your area.
If you have not already taken a home inventory for your belongings and personal property, do so if it is safe before the storm is not on track for your area. Walking around your home with a video camera and narrating the items you have, how old they are and approximate values (if you know them) can be a fast way to do a home inventory before a pending hurricane or natural disaster. With a home inventory, it can be easier to file a claim if your belongings are damaged or destroyed.
Finding cash after a hurricane can be difficult. If Hurricane Henri is on track for your area, you can withdraw cash ahead of time and keep it on hand in case of emergency. While the government provides disaster relief programs, you may have to qualify for funds, and it can take some time to get assistance. Having cash on hand is helpful, especially when you cannot access a bank or computer after a hurricane.
After hurricane Henri
Once Hurricane Henri is gone, and local authorities have declared it is safe to return home, it is time to assess any damage caused by the hurricane. First and foremost, ensure your loved ones and pets are safe.
Before entering your home, take safety precautions:
- Wear gloves and waterproof gear, including boots, to prevent water from touching your skin.
- If you find loose or dangling power lines, do not go near them and report them immediately to the power company and fire department.
- If floodwaters are present, beware of animals, including insects or snakes.
- Open doors and windows to provide ventilation and help with drying out your home.
- If you smell gas, move away from your home and call 911 immediately.
- Check for water line or sewage damage and turn off the electricity at the main source if you find any.
- Check for food spoilage in the refrigerator and pantry.
- Use clean water and soap to wash your hands.
- Disinfect hard surfaces that may have come in contact with floodwaters.
If there is damage to your home or personal property, document the damage and prepare to file a claim. If your home needs temporary repairs to prevent further damage, document what you purchased and keep receipts. Before or after you file a claim:
- Take pictures or video of the damaged items before removing them from your home.
- Keep receipts of any items you purchase to clean, mitigate further damage or replace damaged property.
- Keep track of additional living expenses if you cannot safely live in your home until it is repaired.
- If you have to leave your home, take valuables with you to prevent theft.
- Get quotes from contractors to fix any damage to your home.
Emergency aid after a natural disaster
Once a natural disaster hits, it can cause personal and financial devastation for many. If you need emergency aid after a natural disaster like Hurricane Henri, these resources may be able to help:
- Financial assistance within designated natural disaster areas for food, unemployment, tax relief, utility bills and mortgage assistance
- FEMA for local centers
- FEMA’s text messaging services
- Red Cross for help with costs to cleanup, repair or rebuild, childcare, etc.
- Disasterassistance.gov to find local resources
- Salvation Army
- Small Business Administration
- Disaster Assistance Improvement Program
- Internal Revenue Service
- Hunger Plus, Inc.
There may also be non-government organizations, or NGOs, that can provide local financial and food assistance. If you need assistance, applying as soon as possible offers the best chance of getting the help you may need after a natural disaster like Hurricane Henri.
When a hurricane or other natural disaster hits, being prepared ahead of time can help minimize the damage caused to your home. By having a family plan in place, an emergency preparedness kit available and resources available, you can get financial and other forms of assistance when you need it most.