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Tips for Surviving the 2013 Hurricane Season

NEW YORK (MainStreet)—With the Atlantic hurricane season officially underway as of June 1, nearly half a million properties are at risk in the New York City metro area, according to a new study.

The 2013 CoreLogic Storm Surge Report estimates that overall 4.2 million U.S. homes are at risk for hurricane storm surge damage.

"Sandy was a harsh reminder of the potential destruction associated with storm-surge flooding and of just how many communities are vulnerable to that risk in areas assumed to be safe from hurricanes along the Northeastern Atlantic shoreline," said Dr. Howard Botts, vice president and director of database development for CoreLogic Spatial Solutions.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released preliminary revised flood maps that increase the scope of designated flood zone areas in several New York City suburbs to include 35,000 additional homes and businesses not previously identified as existing within a flood zone. "If your home is in a flood zone, there's little you can do except hope the hurricane doesn't hit you and purchase insurance," said Larry Tanner, professional engineer and research associate at Texas Tech University's National Wind Institute.

Storm surge is triggered primarily by high winds and low pressure associated with hurricanes. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts 13 to 20 named storms with up to six becoming potentially Category 3 or higher.

"The time to prepare is before a storm, because once the power goes out, it's too late," said Art Aiello, spokesperson for Generac Power Systems in Wisconsin. "Take steps as soon as possible to make sure you're ready for hurricane season."

Enough said. Below are six tips on how to prepare for a storm:

  • 1. Determine whether your home is in a flood zone by visiting the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) website where there are updated maps.
  • 2. Install shutters that swing and remain attached to the wall. "Shutters make your home resilient to the wind," Tanner said. "Water intrusion from broken windows is one danger that shutters can prevent because they protect the window from glass breakage when debris hit it."
  • 3. An emergency storm preparedness kit can help keep families safe during a storm. This kit should include the following items a gallon of fresh water per person per day for at least three days, canned food items, flashlight with extra batteries, a weather radio with extra batteries, a whistle to signal for help in the event of entrapment and a list of important contact information. "The contact list should include the phone numbers of friends, family and local authorities so that you can stay in contact and reach out for help," Aiello said.
  • 4. Obtain a rescue alert sticker, which will inform rescuers that pets are inside your home. "Have your disaster plan and emergency kit ready in case you need to evacuate your home. The more prepared you are, the faster you and your pet can get to safety," said Dr. Dick Green, director of disaster response for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal's (ASPCA) Field Investigations and Response Team.
  • 5. Prepare digitally by having photos and important documents like car title, deed, income tax returns, immunization and medical records, birth certificates, school transcripts, wills, insurance contracts and burial plans uploaded safely on Google.com or with legacy lock box. "If you don't have documents stored and something happens to you or your records, you can lose a lifetime of memories, assets and savings that can never be replaced because when a hurricane comes, it doesn't discriminate," said David Harris, CEo of www.assetsinorder.com in Houston, Texas. Visit the website for free membership and video demonstration.
  • 6. Consider purchasing a small, portable back-up generator. "When the power fails, a back-up generator starts up automatically, delivering power to the home," said Aiello. "When utility power returns, the generator turns off and continues to monitor for the next power outage."

--Written by Juliette Fairley for MainStreet

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