As Hurricane Florence bears down on the Mid-Atlantic coast, residents are advised to obey evacuation orders and prepare for what could be the worst storm to hit the coast in decades. While fears of property damage may be at the forefront of your mind, insurance claim attorney Bill Voss urges you to put your safety and that of your loved ones first. If you live in the hurricane watch area, which as of Tuesday afternoon stretches along the Atlantic Coast from Edisto Beach, South Carolina, to the North Carolina-Virginia border, it’s time to take action.
Over 1 Million Residents Under Evacuation Order
Florence is currently a dangerous Category 4 hurricane, with maximum sustained winds clocked at 130 miles per hour. Mandatory evacuation orders have been issued for most of the South Carolina coast and parts of North Carolina. If you are under a mandatory evacuation, it is vital that you heed the order as early as possible and follow directions for evacuation. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security provides the following guidelines for evacuation:
- Find an open shelter in your local area by downloading the FEMA app.
- Listen to a battery-powered radio and follow local evacuation instructions.
- Take an emergency supply kit.
- Leave early enough to avoid being trapped by severe weather.
- Take your pets with you.
- Call or email the out-of-state contact in your family communications plan. Tell them where you are going.
- Secure your home by closing and locking doors and windows.
- Unplug electrical equipment such as radios, televisions, and small appliances.
- Leave freezers and refrigerators plugged in unless there is a risk of flooding.
- If you are instructed to do so, shut off water, gas, and electricity before leaving.
- Wear sturdy shoes and clothing that provides some protection such as long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and a hat.
- Check with neighbors who may need a ride.
- Follow recommended evacuation routes. Do not take shortcuts; they may be blocked.
- Be alert for road hazards such as washed-out roads or bridges and downed power lines. Do not drive into flooded areas.
Despite advanced warning and even visits from emergency personnel, there are always those who choose to stay behind. For some, it’s not a choice. Fear, lack of transportation, medical issues, and immobility keep many people from fleeing dangerous hurricane conditions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers the following advice for those who decide to wait out a storm like Florence:
- Keep listening to the radio or TV for updates on the hurricane.
- Stay inside. Even if it looks calm, don’t go outside. Wait until you hear or see an official message that the hurricane is over. Sometimes, weather gets calm in the middle of a storm but then gets worse again quickly.
- Stay away from windows. You could get hurt by pieces of broken glass during a storm. Stay in a room with no windows, or go inside a closet.
- Be careful. Winds can blow debris—like pieces of broken glass and other objects—at high speeds. Flying debris is the most common cause of injury during a hurricane. You’re also at a higher risk of breaking a bone or cutting yourself on loose nails, metal, or other objects.
- Be ready to leave. If emergency authorities order you to leave or if your home is damaged, you may need to go to a shelter or a neighbor’s house.
The Worst Will Not Be Over Anytime Soon
The storm is predicted to make landfall late Thursday night or early Friday morning, most likely in the Carolinas. In addition to high winds, hurricanes bring a risk of flooding. The National Hurricane Center warns that Florence presents three dangers:
- A life-threatening storm surge at the coast
- Life-threatening freshwater flooding from a prolonged and exceptionally heavy rainfall event
- Damaging hurricane-force winds
Due to the nature of this particular storm, it is expected to produce flooding that could affect residents as far inland as Ohio and Kentucky for days following landfall. As we learned from Hurricane Katrina in 2005, it is often the after-effects of a hurricane that cause the most damage. Continued flooding, power outages, homelessness, lack of drinking water, and other serious concerns can plague residents long after the winds have died down.
Recovering From Hurricane Florence
Once the storm is over, your problems may be just beginning. Recovering from a major storm is not easy, and difficulties with the insurance company can keep you from being able to rebuild or move on. If you need help with any hurricane damage insurance claim for your home or business following Hurricane Florence, reach out to the Voss Law Firm at 1-888-991-3212.