Hurricane Preparedness

It’s that time of the year again…June 1st marked the beginning of this year’s Hurricane Season.

For many who have never lived in a hurricane zone, this may seem scary!  But honestly, The Weather Channel with their silly reporters standing outside being blown around while they tell you that the winds are picking up is all meant to hype the situation…hard to believe that the media creates hype, huh!  Ratings, ratings, ratings!

Here are a couple of important facts to remember about hurricanes and St. Croix.  First, most properties in the Virgin Islands are built to withstand the average storm.  Since Hurricane Hugo in 1989, building codes have been updated to help protect against wind.  Roof structures as it relates to spacing of the rafters, overhang of the structure and the use of hurricane clips have all improved.  New improvements in materials such as impact glass windows and doors make for easy hurricane preparation.  Second, the potential for flooding with storm surge is minimal on an island by virtue of the physics of an island surrounded by water.  For the most part, storm surge goes around the island, not onto the island like you see in the states where the land mass is much larger.  Forecasters predicted a large storm surge with Hurricane Hugo and it never happened.  Finally, yes, storms can be an annoying interruption of your week, but good preparation in advance can make it much less painful.

For us seasoned veterans, we realize it’s the time of year that we look around our houses to make sure that we are prepared for the possibility of a storm.  Below are some simple tips that you should consider doing in advance to help you get yourself and your property in order for hurricane season.

  • Hurricane Shutters—Be sure that all shutters are in good working order.  Check to be sure that they close easily and are able to be secured.
  • Generator—Run your generator routinely with a sufficient load to properly “exercise” it.  You may want to consider a service that will maintain the unit if you are not the mechanical type.  Be sure that your tanks are FULL…don’t wait until the last minute when everyone else is trying to get fuel.  You will only forget this once!
  • Supplies—Batteries, flashlights, candles, basic first aid kit.
  • Pets—If you have pets you may want to consider speaking to your vet about something to calm them in the event of a storm.

I remember one year we were under a Hurricane Watch and I did the routine of going shopping to get the necessary supplies.  It was very easy for me…I was no longer a newbie!  I overheard one lady say, “I know I should be getting stuff, but I don’t know what stuff to get!”  Here is an easy list of supplies that you should have the day before a storm as well as a list of basic “to do’s”.

  • Groceries—Bottled water, canned foods, general groceries.  Use your judgement…don’t go overboard, but understand that you may not be able to go to the grocery store for the next couple days if roadways needs to be cleared first.
  • House Cleaning—I tend to clean the house and catch up on all laundry before a storm.  Some generators struggle with the “heat” appliances, including the dryer.
  • Outdoor Prep—Do a walk around your yard and secure anything that could become flying debris when the winds increase.
  • House Prep—we always close up ALL shutters on our house.  DO NOT wait until the storm is upon you to do it.

If you follow these few tips, you’ll find that storm season will be much less stressful.  And don’t forget, if you leave island during storm season, you should prepare your house as if there is a storm.  Don’t rely on your friends to help out when you’re gone…they will all have their own homes to prepare!