Well folks, as hurricane Sandy bears down on the East Coast, I figured this would be a perfect opportunity to bring up preparedness! After all, landfall is expected tonight! The only difference with this hurricane and well… all the others is that Sandy is expected to merge into a monster nor’easter. These storms are nothing to play around with! It’s important to be prepared.
The 4 Rules
In my last ‘Are you ready to rumble‘ post, I gave 4 simple rules to follow when preparing for a disaster. Let’s review them.
- Understand What Could Happen
- Create an Emergency/Disaster Plan
- Have a Preparedness Checklist
- Maintain Your Plan
Let’s take those rules and apply them to a Nor’easter!
What is a Nor’easter?
A nor’easter is a large storm with characteristics similar to a hurricane. There is low-pressure system, rotation, heavy winds, and of course precipitation. The only difference between a hurricane and a nor’easter is the kind of low-pressure system at work. Hurricanes thrive on warm low-pressure systems (warm air) while nor’easters thrive on the opposite- cold low-pressure systems (cold air).
Where are nor’easters found?
A Nor’easter usually develop in-between the Georgia and New Jersey coastlines. Once developed, the storm travels north/ northeastward up the Atlantic Coast. This means it could effect Georgia, Virginia, all of New England, and the Atlantic regions of Canada.
When do nor’easters occur?
Normally a nor’easter develops between October and April. However, a nor’easter could spawn at any time during the year. It just needs a cold low-pressure system to kick off.
What damage can be caused?
When a nor’easter comes ashore there is a chance that it could cause flooding, coastal erosion, wind damage, and even blizzard conditions! Most damage and deaths occur from being ill prepared for cold-related calamities (power outage, ice, and freezing conditions). If you live in an area that is affected by nor’easters planning and preparing for these conditions is highly advisable!
CREATE AN EMERGENCY/DISASTER PLAN
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) acknowledges “There are actions that should be taken before, during and after an event that are unique to each hazard.” So what actions are unique to a nor’easter?
Develop a Plan
Those living in areas that are affected by nor’easters need to be aware of hazards in the area they live and in the areas they frequent.
Contacting local emergency management offices provides a wealth of information. These offices pride themselves on knowing what hazards plague a community. (If the community is in a low-lying area and could be flooded, this is the office that will know that.) They usually have outlines of local plans of action (what the city/town will do in an emergency) and will have recommendations specific for each area of the community they oversee.
Local emergency management will also have information pertaining to warning systems. While asking for local plans of action and recommendations, it is worth finding out how these offices plan on warning the community of an impending danger. It’s good to ask the following questions about how warnings in the area are handled:
- Are they door to door in person? If so, who will do the contacting contacting?
- Will someone telephone? Is it a person or a robo-call? What number will call you?
- Will it be broadcast on TV/ Emergency Radio/ NOA Weather Radio?
- Is there a special siren? What does the siren sound like? What is the all-clear?
Once all the hazards have been identified sit down and create a before, during and after plan. Plan for the flood, the power outage, the fire, the evacuation. Plan for each hazard. Once done creating the plan, create the backup plan. These plans (and where they are located) should then be shared with everyone in your core family (ie. Husband, Wife, Kids) and a few (one or two) other trusted people (ie. Grandma, Best friend in another town, Aunt Milly who lives out of state)
Actions Prior (before)
- Acknowledge all hazards.
- Create the plan. Write out the plan and all its components. Include a check list of steps and supplies.
- Share the plan!
- Practice the plan (& revise it where fit). Make sure all the steps are known and that all supplies are on hand.
The plan is already set. There is a copy on hand. The emergency numbers are listed. Courses of action are outlined. Back up courses of action are outlined. As much as possible, STICK TO THE PLAN. However, if conditions arise that warrant immediate action for imminent danger: dial 911! and respond accordingly.
What happens after? The plan should reflect this. If everyone was not together when the storm hit, where were they? Where do you find them? Where do you go if your home was damaged? Who do you call for help? How do you get ahold of your insurance company? How do you get funds from your accounts? Where do you find supplies (food/water/gas)? Those who have prepared ahead of time will know the answers to all these questions.
HAVE A PREPAREDNESS CHECKLIST/ DISASTER KIT
The nor’easter plan is in place. It has all the components for flooding, heavy snows, or a power outage. Now it’s time to make the checklist. This list ensures that everything is ready and in proper working order.
Use this Emergency Preparedness Checklist from the FEMA and American Red Cross as a template. It’s wise to modify it to the specifics in your situation.
Maintain Your Plan
There is nothing more important than keeping your plan up to date. To be prepared means staying up to date with disaster related technologies and hazardous conditions. After all, circumstances change all the time.
Until Next Time- Stay safe!