How New Orleans is using social media to prepare for Hurricane Isaac

How New Orleans is using social media to prepare for Hurricane Isaac

By Matt Wilson | Posted: August 27, 2012
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According to The Weather Channel, Tropical Storm Isaac will make its landfall on the northern shore of the Gulf of Mexico sometime Tuesday.

With Hurricane Katrina still fresh in the minds of many in that region, particularly residents of New Orleans, preparedness is the name of the game for big storms such as Isaac. That’s why the city has set up a NOLA Ready website and Twitter account to get information out as it becomes available.

“If the storm does something incredibly crazy, we will react to that, but at this moment there is no plan to evacuate the City of #NOLA,” one tweet announced Monday, followed by this quote from Mayor Mitch Landrieu:

“If you plan to leave, you feel comfortable leaving and you have a place to go, don’t wait. Now would be a good time to go.”

New Orleans officials were, quite understandably, unavailable Monday (a call to City Hall resulted in a busy signal), but local communications professionals mostly said city and state social media efforts in the face of the emergency have been handled well.

What they’re doing right

“The updates are engaging, informative, and timely,” says Sara Estes Cohen, an emergency response and social media strategist in New Orleans. “The profiles also respond to questions and statements easily and quickly.”

Some of the direct responses to citizens have come from the mayor’s Twitter account, often with the intent of correcting misinformation. The NOLA Ready account has mostly been answering questionsabout closings and transit changes.

Estes Cohen particularly says the state’s Twitter account for the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness has stayed on top of things well.

“I’ve also noticed that most parishes have mentioned their social media accounts on the news this morning and have been encouraging viewers to sign up for notifications, to check websites, etc.,” she says.

Tripp Frohlichstein of MediaMasters Training says the social media accounts are doing a really nice job of sharing links to information.

“This is great for a large percentage of people in the area,” he says. “However, it must be remembered that there are large numbers of people that don’t have access to social media, or simply don’t use it. So it is important they also use traditional electronic media to keep people updated.”

Jeff Zehnder of New Orleans-based Zehnder Communications says the mayor’s office has done “a stellar job” coordinating communications with parish and state officials to get information out through social media. He adds that the availability of social channels makes it much easier to spread word of what’s happening now, compared with when Katrina hit in 2005.

Potential missteps

Though the city’s social media efforts are thorough, Frohlichstein says they could be a little more personal.

“Perhaps it is implied, but I think it would enhance the efforts of the local and state governments to note that everything they are doing is to keep people safe,” he says.

For example, Frohlichstein points to a tweet from the governor’s emergency preparedness office:

“Gov @BobbyJindal: Authorized activation of up to 4,000 LA Nat’l Guardsmen if necessary for #Isaac; 700 fulltime Guardsmen working today.”

It should maybe read more like this:

“Gov @BobbyJindal: Authorized activation of up to 4,000 LA Nat’l Guardsmen if necessary for #Isaac to make sure we keep people safe and protect their property; 700 fulltime Guardsmen working today.” (That does exceed Twitter’s 140-character limit, but the point Frohlichstein raises is one of tone.)

Communications strategist and former CBS News correspondent David Henderson, who bloggedabout Isaac on Sunday, says he sees the NOLA Ready site and the Twitter accounts as mostly self-serving.

“The [NOLA Ready] website is too wordy, too generic, and too politically correct by presenting all the press releases of the various politicians,” he says. “It seems more about the local politicians than an emergency service for residents.”

Same goes for the Twitter accounts, Henderson opines. Most New Orleans residents will be getting their news by radio.

“Internet penetration in the region is considerably below the national norm, and social media, including Twitter, is even less effective for reaching people in the area,” he says.

Another problem? The NOLA Ready has some information available only in PDF form, which is a sure way no one will read it, Henderson asserts.

Internal emergency comms

What about how businesses in the storm’s path are communicating with employees? SAS doesn’t have any offices directly in Isaac’s immediate path, but it’s seen its share of big storms with offices in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas.

“As long as it is a life-safety event, all communications are handled by our safety and security team,” says Becky Graebe, SAS’s internal communications manager. “There are communication tools in place for them to automatically post alerts to our intranet home page as a top-of-screen banner. The security team also has an Emergency Notification System that can be used to notify employees in that specific location.”

After the storm, earthquake, or other event is over, communicators post regular updates to the company’s Employee Voices blog and invite employees to offer support, she says.

Matt Wilson is a staff writer for

Apple vs. Samsung: Three possible outcomes

Apple vs. Samsung: Three possible outcomes

By David Goldman @CNNMoneyTech August 24, 2012: 8:42 AM ET

Do these phones look too similar? That could be a billion-dollar decision for Apple and Samsung.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — An epic patent battle involving the world’s two largest technology companies and some of the most popular gadgets on the market now rests with nine jurors in California.

A verdict could come any time, but given the case’s complexity, few expect a decision before the middle of next week. No matter how the jury decides, the fight won’t be over. The companies are virtually guaranteed to appeal the rulings they lost.

Still, it’s possible to suss out a few of the most likely outcomes and their consequences. Here are three ways it could go down.

Apple wins outright

The key to an Apple (AAPL,Fortune 500) victory seems to be what’s in plain sight.

Apple says Samsung infringed on four of its design patents and three software patents. There’s no doubt that many of the Samsung gadgets in question look very similar to Apple’s iGizmos. Even U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh admitted that Samsung’s Galaxy tablet appeared “virtually indistinguishable” from the iPad.

A number of experts tracking the courtroom action think Apple made a strong case.

“I have been surprised that Samsung seems to have been on the defensive so much,” said Mark McKenna, a law professor and intellectual property specialist at the University of Notre Dame.

Any edge Apple gains could turn into a decisive victory.

In nearly three-quarters of patent cases, the jury decides in favor of the same party on all the issues, according to Alex Poltorak, CEO of the General Patent Corp., an industry consulting firm. He thinks it’s unlikely that the jury will go into the fine details point by point.

“The dynamics of jury deliberation generally are about finding who is the good guy and who is the bad guy,” Poltorak said. “More likely than not, Samsung will be found to have ripped off Apple’s design, and therefore the jury will rule on all issues in favor of Apple.”

Related story: 19 incredible Apple secrets revealed in court

Losing could be very expensive for Samsung: Apple is seeking as much as $2.5 billion in damages. Samsung has enough cash, though, to withstand the blow. It earned $12 billion last year and has $14 billion cash in the bank.

If Apple sweeps the board, legal and technology experts widely agree that the smartphone landscape will be shaken up, particularly for Google’s Android ecosystem. Samsung is the largest manufacturer of Android devices.

“Other manufacturers could be sued for similar software infringements, which means Google (GOOGFortune 500) has to make sure its Android interface doesn’t infringe,” said Jefferson Wang, mobile consultant at services firm IBB. “That means wireless carriers would have to start worrying about whether Android is a viable ecosystem.”

A design-patent infringement ruling could also force smartphone and tablet makers to retool their designs.

“If Apple wins, competitors will have to stay away from how close Samsung got to Apple’s products,” said Chris Carani, a design patent attorney at McAndrews, Held & Malloy. “They will have to create products that are distinct from Apple.”

Apple could also request an injunction against the Samsung devices that were found to have infringed Apple’s patents. That means those gadgets could be forced to stay off the market until they are tweaked.

Samsung wins outright

Samsung is counter-suing Apple, saying the tech giant violated five of its own software patents. If Samsung wins, the stakes are much lower.

The patents that Samsung is disputing are considered “non-essential.” Forcing major changes or even having an injunction granted against the iPhone or iPad is extremely unlikely, according to Poltorak. What’s more probable is that Apple would be forced to license those patents from Samsung for a small amount of money per iPhone sold.

The most striking blow Samsung could deal is if the jury rules that Apple’s patents are invalid, Carani said.

Apple will likely continue its legal crusade against Android — it has lost some high-profile patent cases before, and it hasn’t been deterred. But if its patents are invalidated, some of the wind would be taken out of its sails.

Experts doubt Samsung will win all of its battles, though. What’s much more likely is a split decision.

A mixed verdict

The jury’s task is extremely complicated. Judge Koh issued 109 pages of instructions, complete with 84 separate directives on how to fill out a 20-page verdict form that includes 36 multi-part questions. It’s like the most nightmarish multiple-choice test imaginable.

Among the many issues the jurors need to sort out is which — if any — patents were violated by each of Samsung’s 26 smartphones and two tablets, as well as three of Apple’s iPhones, the iPad 2 and the iPod Touch.

If the jury finds in favor of Apple on some patents and in favor of Samsung on others, all bets are off. No one can really predict what a mixed ruling means, though some think it would jump-start the industry’s creativity.

“If a split decision happens, most sides are going to have to be more careful with innovation,” said Wang, the IBB consultant. “The industry will accelerate new designs that are different from the rectangular slabs out there today.”

However the dice land, the final outcome of the Apple-Samsung showdown will ripple throughout the tech industry for years. To top of page

First Published: August 24, 2012: 6:49 AM ET

Storm Gains Strength Moving Toward Coast

Storm Gains Strength Moving Toward Coast

Angel Valentin for The New York Times

Mike Harden, left, and Anthony Parducci boarded up a store in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., on Sunday.

Published: August 26, 2012
TAMPA, Fla. — As Tropical Storm Isaac churned into the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday, South Florida managed to dodge the worst of it. But the fast-moving storm appeared poised to swell into a hurricane and hit land on Wednesday between the Florida Panhandle and New Orleans.

Much of the areas along the Gulf Coast, including New Orleans, which was ravaged seven years ago to the week by Hurricane Katrina, received either tropical storm or hurricane warnings on Sunday, and the governors of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama declared states of emergency in anticipation of the storm.

The Florida Keys, which were the first land mass in the United States to feel the system’s impact, barely shuddered as the storm sideswiped them with rain and occasional bursts of sharp wind; residents along the chain of islands, long accustomed to storms, were mostly unfazed, while government officials expressed relief.

“It’s not what it could have been,” said Irene Toner, the Monroe County director of emergency management. “I consider us pretty lucky so far.”

Forecasters said the storm could develop into a Category One hurricane — the weakest — by Monday, once it begins its unimpeded journey up the warm waters of the gulf.

Tampa, where most of the formal events on the first day of the Republican National Convention on Monday were canceled because of uncertainty over the storm, will most likely be spared. At the moment, Tampa Bay is expected to feel the sting of the storm’s wind and rain but should escape its most punishing weather, a reprieve to organizers. An estimated 65,000 people are expected here for the convention.

“Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday ought to be fine,” Mayor Bob Buckhorn of Tampa said on Sunday.

But the storm’s shift to the north and west — farther away from Florida’s south and central coast — has prompted heightened concern elsewhere. Hurricane experts now predict that the storm could smack right into the northern and western Gulf Coast, perhaps even New Orleans. By then, it could reach a Category Two hurricane with 100-mile-per-hour winds, projections showed. The storm’s latest shift, coming three days before the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, was met with great concern in the region.

Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana said he would skip his scheduled speech in Tampa on Tuesday but might speak on Wednesday if the storm cooperates. The Republican governors in several other Gulf Coast states — Florida, Alabama and Mississippi — also announced that the storm had forced them to alter or drop their plans for the convention.

Mr. Jindal on Sunday asked for voluntary evacuations in 15 low-lying parishes on or near the Gulf Coast and authorized the National Guard to mobilize 4,000 members if needed. The community of Grand Isle was placed under a mandatory evacuation order by its mayor.

“We always have to hope for the best even as we prepare for the worst,” Mr. Jindal said at a news conference in Baton Rouge.

The mayor of New Orleans, Mitch Landrieu, said that he did not anticipate ordering an evacuation but that the city was monitoring the storm and urged residents to be prepared. If an evacuation were to happen, buses and trains would take residents to shelters far from the city; under this plan, the Superdome, convention center and airport would not be open as shelters of last resort.

“We’ve walked through this many, many, many times,” he said. “You have to be prepared to evacuate in the event that an evacuation is called.”

Shell and BP oil companies curtailed drilling and evacuated oil workers in the gulf.

Several Florida beach communities between Tampa and Naples, including Fort Myers Beach, were ordered evacuated on Sunday as a precaution. In South Florida, officials had also taken precautions, closing schools and opening shelters. Airports remained open but hundreds of flights were canceled.

Residents fueled up their cars and generators, took stock of batteries, moved potentially airborne objects inside and bought extra water. In the Keys, most businesses put up shutters and closed early on Sunday. But most people in South Florida took the storm in stride.

As the system shuffled toward the Florida Keys, residents, who tend to view a tropical storm as a trifle, greeted it nonchalantly and, in some quarters, as an excuse to party indoors. They took a few precautions and then met up in bars or with friends. Key West’s last brush with a hurricane was Wilma in 2005, which caused widespread flooding.

With so many people tucked under roofs, raucous Key West felt eerily still.

“The streets are dead,” said Erin Kelly, owner of Bad Boy Burritos in Key West, who planned to stay open until the umpteenth hour. “It’s fabulous.”

Officials had urged tourists to leave ahead of the storm but many in Key West chose to stay put. “It’s a different way to visit Key West,” said Marcello Noccia, a visitor from Naples, Italy. “Everybody here is not nervous. On TV, they are a bit nervous but not here, not walking on the street.”

In Islamorada, farther east along the island chain, many residents were preoccupied with securing their boats. Residents sometimes steer the boats into the mangrove cuts, “then get off the boat and pray,” said Ted Opyr, 68. Mr. Opyr lives on a houseboat and was riding out the storm at the Hampton Inn.

The mangroves can reach about 20 feet in height and are so densely entwined that they provide the best shelter for boats.

As for the locals who did not so much as blink at the storm’s flirtation with the Keys, “You won’t see a local leave the area unless it’s a Category Three or higher,” Mr. Opyr said.

Reporting was contributed by Campbell Robertson from New Orleans; Nancy Klingener from Key West, Fla.; Lara Petusky Coger from Islamorada, Fla.; and Channing Joseph from New York.

A version of this article appeared in print on August 27, 2012, on page A9 of the New York edition with the headline: On Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, New Storm Threatens the Gulf Coast.

Tropical Storm Isaac: Gulf Coast Braces For Possibility Of Storm Strengthening Into Hurricane braces_n_1832124.html

Tropical Storm Isaac: Gulf Coast Braces For Possibility Of Storm Strengthening Into Hurricane

By MATT SEDENSKY 08/26/12 11:09 PM ET AP

Tropical Storm Isaac

Map locates Tropical Storm Isaac and its projected path for the next five days (AP/NOAA)

KEY WEST, Fla. — Tropical Storm Isaac barely stirred Florida Keys residents from their fabled nonchalance Sunday, while the Gulf Coast braced for the possibility that the sprawling storm will strengthen into a dangerous hurricane by the time it makes landfall there.

It was on course to strike land on the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, a powerful storm that crippled New Orleans and the Gulf Coast and became a symbol of government ineptitude. Forecasters expected Isaac to pass the Keys late Sunday before turning northwest and striking as a Category 2 hurricane somewhere between New Orleans and the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday.

The National Hurricane Center issued a hurricane warning for a large swath of the northern Gulf Coast from east of Morgan City, La. – which includes the New Orleans area – to Destin, Fla. A Category 2 hurricane has sustained winds of between 96 and 110 mph (154 to 177 kph).

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal called a state of emergency and officials in St. Charles Parish near New Orleans told its 53,000 residents to leave ahead of the storm. Jindal also said he may skip a speaking engagement later this week at the Republican National Convention in Tampa unless the threat to his state subsides. Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley has canceled his trip to the convention because of Isaac, and Florida Gov. Rick Scott also gave up his speaking engagement.

Elected leaders’ vigilance toward tropical storms has heightened in the seven years since Katrina struck. Criticism was leveled at officials reaching all the way to the White House over what was seen as the federal government’s slow and bungled response to the storm that killed 1,800.

An emergency declaration was also issued in Mississippi by Gov. Phil Bryant amid concerns of storm surge threatening low-lying areas. Oil companies began evacuating workers from offshore oil rigs and cutting production in advance of Isaac.

The storm was on a course to pass west of Tampa, but it had already disrupted the Republicans’ schedule there because of the likelihood of heavy rain and strong winds that extended more than 200 miles from its center.

Even before reaching hurricane strength, Isaac caused considerable inconvenience, with more than 550 flights canceled at Miami International Airport and about 150 from Fort Lauderdale’s airport. There were scattered power outages from Key West to Fort Lauderdale affecting more than 16,000 customers, and flooding occurred in low-lying areas.

Gov. Rick Scott said at a news conference Sunday evening that only minor damage was reported from Isaac.

Wind gusts of 60 mph were reported as far north as Pompano Beach, north of Fort Lauderdale. But while officials urged residents in southeast Florida to stay home, that recommendation was ignored by surfers and joggers on Miami Beach and shoppers at area malls.

In Key West, Emalyn Mercer rode her bike while decked out with a snorkel and mask, inflatable arm bands and a paddle, just for a laugh. She rode with Kelly Friend, who wore a wet suit, dive cap and lobster gloves.

“We’re just going for a drink,” Mercer said.

“With the ones that are brave enough like us,” Friend added.

Along famed Duval Street, many stores, bars and restaurants closed, the cigar rollers and palm readers packed up, and just a handful of drinking holes remained open.

But people posed for pictures at the Southernmost Point, while at a marina Dave Harris and Robyn Roth took her dachshund for a walk and checked out boats rocking along the waterfront.

“Just a summer day in Key West,” Harris said.

That kind of ho-hum attitude extended farther up the coast. Edwin Reeder swung by a gas station in Miami Shores – not for fuel, but drinks and snacks.

“This isn’t a storm,” he said. “It’s a rain storm.”

With a laugh, Reeder said he has not stocked up aside from buying dog and cat food.

The forecast wasn’t funny, however. Isaac was expected to draw significant strength from the warm, open waters of the Gulf of Mexico, but there remained much uncertainty about its path.

The Gulf Coast hasn’t been hit by a hurricane since 2008, when Dolly, Ike and Gustav all struck the region. Florida, meanwhile, has been hurricane-free since it was struck four times each in 2004 and 2005.

Hurricane center forecasters are uncertain of the storm’s path because two of their best computer models now track the storm on opposite sides of a broad cone. One model has Isaac going well west and the other well east. For the moment, the predicted track goes up the middle.

Florida Panhandle residents stocked up on water and gasoline, and at least one Pensacola store ran out of flashlight models and C and D batteries. Scott Reynolds, who lives near the water in Gulf Breeze, filled his car trunk with several cases of water, dozens of power bars and ramen noodles.

“Cigarettes – I’m stocking up on those too,” he said.

Forecasters stressed that the storm’s exact location remained extremely uncertain – a fact not lost on Tony Varnado as he cut sheets of plywood to board up his family’s beach home on Pensacola Beach. With the storm’s projected path creeping farther to the west, the Mandeville, La., resident joked he might be boarding up the wrong house.

“I’m going to head back that way as soon as we are done here to make sure we are prepared if hits there,” he said.

Before reaching Florida, Isaac was blamed for eight deaths in Haiti and two more in the Dominican Republic, and downed trees and power lines in Cuba. It bore down on the Keys two days after the 20th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew, which caused more than $25 billion in damage just north of the island chain.

In Tampa, convention officials said they would convene briefly on Monday, then recess until Tuesday afternoon, when the storm was expected to have passed. Scott canceled his plans to attend convention events on Sunday and Monday.

At Miami International Airport, more than 550 flights Sunday were canceled. Inside the American Airlines terminal, people craned for a look out of one of the doors as a particularly strong band of Isaac began lashing the airport with strong rain and high wind.

Michele Remillard said she was trying to get a seat on a flight to New Orleans, well aware the city could be affected by Isaac later this week. In coastal Plaquemines Parish, La., crews rushed to protect the levees that keep floodwaters from reaching that New Orleans suburb.

“It’s a little scary,” said Remillard, who was in town for a wedding. “But I need to get home, you know? And if the storm comes my way again, who knows, I might have to come back here.”

As of 11 p.m. EDT, the storm was centered about 510 miles (820 kilometers) southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami. Isaac had top sustained winds of 65 mph (100 kph) and was moving to the northwest at 15 mph (24 kph).

Tropical storm-force winds extended outward up to 205 miles (335 km) from the center, meaning storm conditions are possible even in places not in Isaac’s direct path.


Florida Governor Declares State Of Emergency Ahead Of Tropical Storm Isaac

Florida Governor Declares State Of Emergency Ahead Of Tropical Storm Isaac

By SUZETTE LABOY 08/25/12 02:07 PM ET AP

Hurricane Isaac Path Forecast Cone Tropical Storm

Isaac’s projected path as of 2 p.m. Saturday.

MIAMI — Officials organized shelters and urged vacationers to leave the Florida Keys as Tropical Storm Isaac approached on Saturday, though preparations farther north focused on getting ready for the Republican National Convention.

Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency to make sure local and state agencies would be ready. The governor said during a media briefing that delegates were being told on how to stay safe during a storm, and officials were ready for storm surge, bridge closures and other problems that could arise during the convention. He also said he was in close communication with local, state and federal agencies, as well as convention officials.

“We are a hospitality state. We know how to take care of people and we want to ensure their safety,” Scott said Saturday.

A hurricane warning had been issued for the Keys, though it was still a sunny day in Tampa. Forecast models show Isaac won’t hit Tampa head-on, but the storm will still likely lash the city with rain and strong winds just as the convention ramps up. Protests were to start in full force on Sunday afternoon, and demonstrators have vowed that they will make their presence known rain or shine.

Isaac was blamed for at least three deaths after dousing flood-prone Haiti and was expected to scrape eastern Cuba on Saturday. It was forecast to hit the Keys late Sunday or early Monday, and it then could bring stormy conditions to Florida’s west coast before moving to the Panhandle.

Still, the storm was days away from the Panhandle. It was sunny and breezy on the beach Saturday in Pensacola, with people out strolling and playing in the sand. Condo associations told people to move furniture inside, but full-scale preparations hadn’t yet begun. Waves weren’t yet big enough for surfers.

When the storm hits, strong winds will be “enough to knock you over” and produce severe thunderstorms, said National Hurricane Center spokesman Dennis Feltgen.

Storm surge and tornadoes also are possible when Isaac hits, and winds could topple power lines and lead to lengthy power outages, Feltgen said. The Panhandle already has had a wet summer, so potential flooding was especially possible there.

Schools, airports, parks and beaches across South Florida closed ahead of the storm. In the Florida Keys, officials said they would open storm shelters and urged vacationers to leave. State officials warned Isaac was a massive storm – even though the eye may not pass over Tampa, tropical storm-force winds extended 230 miles from the center.

Officials were handing out sandbags to residents in the Tampa area, which often floods when heavy rainstorms hit. Sandbags also were being handed out in Homestead, 20 years after Hurricane Andrew devastated the community there. Otherwise, however, convention preparations were moving ahead as usual.

Groups including Code Pink, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the AFL-CIO union and Planned Parenthood have already started arriving in Tampa, regardless of the forecast.

Police said even heavy rain could reduce the protesters’ ranks, and could also bring relief from another worry: extreme heat.

Flooding and beach erosion is also a concern for southwest Florida. The hurricane warning included the west coast of Florida from Bonita Beach southward.


View from space of a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico

Inspire others to act by being an example yourself,Pledge to Prepare & tell others about it!

Pledge to Prepare

A hurricane is a type of tropical cyclone or severe tropical storm that forms in the southern Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and in the eastern Pacific Ocean. A typical cyclone is accompanied bythunderstorms, and in the Northern Hemisphere, a counterclockwise circulation of winds near the earth’s surface.

All Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coastal areas are subject to hurricanes. Parts of the Southwest United States and the Pacific Coast also experience heavy rains and floods each year from hurricanes spawned off Mexico. The Atlantic hurricane season lasts from June to November, with the peak season from mid-August to late October. The Eastern Pacific hurricane season begins May 15 and ends November 30.

Hurricanes can cause catastrophic damage to coastlines and several hundred miles inland. Hurricane can produce winds exceeding 155 miles per hour as well as tornadoes and mircrobursts. Additionally, hurricanes can create storm surges along the coast and cause extensive damage from heavy rainfall. Floods and flying debris from the excessive winds are often the deadly and destructive results of these weather events. Slow moving hurricanes traveling into mountainous regions tend to produce especially heavy rain. Excessive rain can trigger landslides or mud slides. Flash flooding can occur due to intense rainfall.

Between 1970 and 1999, more people lost their lives from freshwater inland flooding associated with tropical cyclones than from any other weather hazard related to such storms.

  • Before

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  • Talk about Hurricanes

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A man nailing plywood over the windows of his home.Before a Hurricane

To prepare for a hurricane, you should take the following measures:

  • To begin preparing, you should build an emergency kitand make a family communications plan.
  • Know your surroundings.
  • Learn the elevation level of your property and whether the land is flood-prone. This will help you know how your property will be affected when storm surge or tidal flooding are forecasted.
  • Identify levees and dams in your area and determine whether they pose a hazard to you.
  • Learn community hurricane evacuation routes and how to find higher ground. Determine where you would go and how you would get there if you needed to evacuate.
  • Make plans to secure your property:
  • Cover all of your home’s windows. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows. A second option is to board up windows with 5/8” marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install. Tape does not prevent windows from breaking.
  • Install straps or additional clips to securely fasten your roof to the frame structure. This will reduce roof damage.
  • Be sure trees and shrubs around your home are well trimmed so they are more wind resistant.
  • Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts.
  • Reinforce your garage doors; if wind enters a garage it can cause dangerous and expensive structural damage.
  • Plan to bring in all outdoor furniture, decorations, garbage cans and anything else that is not tied down.
  • Determine how and where to secure your boat.
  • Install a generator for emergencies.
  • If in a high-rise building, be prepared to take shelter on or below the 10th floor.
  • Consider building a safe room.

Hurricanes cause heavy rains that can cause extensive flood damage in coastal and inland areas. Everyone is at risk and should consider flood insurance protection. Flood insurance is the only way to financially protect your property or business from flood damage. To learn more about your flooding risk and how to protect yourself and your business, visit the Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration (NFIP) Web site, or call 1-800-427-2419.

For more detailed information on how you can protect your property, view NFIP’s printer-friendly handout Avoiding Hurricane Damage.

Family Emergency Communication Plan

Family Emergency Communication Plan

Your family may not be together when a disaster strikes so it will be important to plan ahead of time concerning how you will contact each other. For example, you may be at work and one of your children may be at school. Would your child know how to get in contact with you?
  • Identify an out-of-town contact. Local phone service may be hard to get whereas long distance calls may be easier.
  • Make sure everyone has the phone number and a prepaid phone card. Program ICE (in case of emergency) number into your cell phone and those of your other family members.
  • Teach family members how to text message.
  • Subscribe to alert services. Many communities now have email messaging and text alerts that are automated and send out information about road closings, bad weather and other local emergencies. Many schools have this automated service to alert parents that school is closed.

Each state is listed with information about how to contact your local emergency planners. will give you the name, address and phone numbers as well as common weather risks in each state.

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