ReadyVB: Planning for Hurricane Season
If you’re new to coastal Virginia, let alone living near the ocean, you may have questions about hurricanes. And when it comes to natural disasters, it goes without saying that hurricanes are among the most powerful and devastating. Their high winds, heavy rainfall, and storm surges can cause extensive damage to infrastructure and pose a significant threat to human life. However, with proper planning and preparation, you can minimize the risks and ensure the safety of your loved ones and property. Here are a few essential steps to help plan.
1. Stay Informed
Knowledge is your greatest asset when preparing for a hurricane. Stay informed about weather conditions and forecasts by regularly monitoring reliable sources such as the National Hurricane Center (NHC) or your local meteorological agencies. Know your hurricane evacuation zone by contacting your local emergency management agency or visiting websites like the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH). Stay updated on the latest information as changes occur.
2. Create an Emergency Kit
As part of your hurricane preparedness plan, assemble an emergency kit with essential supplies to sustain you and your family for at least 72 hours. The kit should include non-perishable food, bottled water, flashlights, batteries, a first aid kit, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra medications, personal hygiene items, cash, important documents, and extra clothing. Ready.gov has a wealth of information to help you build an effective emergency kit, how many to make, and where to store them.
3. Make a Family Communications Plan
Don't just hope you will know how to contact one another after a disaster hits. Plan on it. Ideally, this is done before hurricane season starts. Create a family communications plan to ensure everyone knows who to contact and how to reach them in case of separation or communication disruptions. Determine a designated meeting point and establish alternative methods of communication. Keep important contact information with your emergency supply kit. Ready.gov provides guidance on this as well.
4. Review Your Insurance Coverage
Reviewing your insurance coverage to ensure you have adequate protection is crucial. Most homeowners’ insurance policies do not cover flood damage, so consider purchasing flood insurance. Remember that flood insurance typically takes 30 days to become effective, so apply as soon as possible. Be sure to look into coverage under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Document your property in advance, including photographs, to facilitate the insurance claim process if necessary. Remember that the value of your home will change from year to year. Be sure to update your policy annually to reflect its current assessed value.
5. Understand and Sign Up for Alerts and Warnings
Make sure you’ve signed up with VBAlert, the City's FREE emergency alert and notification system, and be the first to know when emergencies happen. The City uses VBAlert to send official, real-time alerts to the public with information about potentially life-saving actions they may need to take to keep themselves and their families safe, such as weather watches. The system sends messages to registered users via text, email, and phone. Message and data rates may apply depending on your provider and phone services.
You can also familiarize yourself with National Weather Service (NWS) alerts and warnings, which provide critical information during a hurricane. Visit the NWS website to understand hurricane and tropical storm watches, warnings, advisories, and outlooks. Have multiple ways to receive weather alerts and notifications, such as turning on Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs) in your smartphone settings and keeping a NOAA Weather Radio tuned to your local emergency frequency.
For more information on emergency preparedness, visit virginiabeach.gov/ReadyVB.