Citizens should be prepared for potentially damaging weather in New Hanover County that can strike at any time. Tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, lightning strikes, snow and ice storms have caused power outages, property damage, environmental destruction, and interruptions in food and water supplies.
The best time to assemble a three-day emergency supply kit is well before you will ever need it. Most people already have these items around the house and it is a matter of assembling them now before an evacuation order is issued. Stocking up now on emergency supplies can add to your family’s safety and comfort during and after a disaster.
Use the following Severe Weather Guides to assist your family and/or business in being prepared in case of a disaster.
Earthquakes do not happen very often in North Carolina, but it is wise to be prepared and know what to if one should happen at your home, the workplace, or while you’re driving.
Initially, you would first hear a low rumbling noise followed by the shaking. It could start gently and grow more violent, or you could be jarred by a sudden jolt. The most important thing to remember during an earthquake is not to panic. Most casualties result from falling objects and debris.
DUCK – When the shaking first starts…DUCK or drop to the floor.
COVER – Take COVER under a sturdy desk, table, or other furniture. If there is nothing available to take cover under, crouch against an interior wall and protect your head and neck with your arms. Stay away from windows, hanging objects, mirrors or anything that might fall over.
HOLD – If seeking cover under a piece of furniture, HOLD on to it and be prepared to move with it during the quake.
In modern homes doorways are no stronger than any other parts of the house and the doors could swing and injure you.
Remember, while an earthquake might only last a few seconds, there are often after-shocks that could be as strong as the earthquake occurring for days after the initial shaking.
Flooding can occur at anytime of the year and just about anywhere in New Hanover County. Many New Hanover County residents remember the record-setting 500-year flood caused by Hurricane Floyd in 1999. Sixty-six of North Carolina’s 100 counties were declared disaster areas.
Whether you are in your home, driving or on foot, flooding is dangerous. Just a few inches of water can knock you off your feet or sweep your car away.
Stay away from flooded roadways and swollen streams and rivers. Floods can cause great damage as well as loss of life.
Flood currents can be strong and hazardous. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA, keeps a round-the-clock surveillance on the nation’s rivers and is prepared to issue warnings when the threat of flooding occurs. If you live in a flood zone, you may prevent loss if you make advance preparations.
Do not drive your car through flood waters. Most deaths in flash flooding occur in automobiles. Cars will float in less than one foot of water, and that’s when lives are seriously endangered.
If flooding occurs:
A building that has been damaged by rising water can be a dangerous place. This information will help you know what to look out for and how to protect yourself and your family. It will also tell you what you need to know about cleaning up and making your home safe to live in again.
Watch out for these dangers:
Never assume that a water-damaged house is safe. Going into a building that has been flooded, even after the water is gone, can present a wide variety of hazards that can cause injury, illness or even death. Do not allow children in the home after the flood or while it is being cleaned, inspected or repaired.
New Hanover County is vulnerable to a direct hurricane strike and can be devastated by the high winds and potential tornados, storm surges, flooding and landslides from hurricanes and tropical storms.
Durring hurricane season, from June 1 to November 30, you should have a family emergency plan in place and a family emergency supplies kit assembled.
Lightning is a dangerous threat to people in the United States, particularly those outside in the summertime, the peak season for lightning. Across the United States each year an estimated 25 million cloud-to-ground lightning strikes occur. Each flash is a potential danger. An average of 73 people are killed each year in the U.S, more than the number of people killed by tornadoes or hurricanes.
Lightning can strike as far as 10 miles away from the rain area in a thunderstorm, or about the distance you can hear thunder. When a storm is 10 miles away, it may even be difficult to tell a storm is coming.
In addition to the visible flash that travels through the air, the current associated with the lightning discharge travels along the ground. Although some victims are struck directly by the main lightning stroke, many victims are struck as the current moves in and along the ground.
The first stroke of lightning is just as deadly as the last. If the sky looks threatening, people should take shelter even before they hear thunder.
Be aware of developing thunderstorms. IF YOU CAN HEAR THUNDER, YOU ARE WITHIN STRIKING DISTANCE. SEEK SAFE SHELTER IMMEDIATELY.
If someone is struck by lightning, medical care may be needed immediately to save his or her life. Call 9-1-1. Cardiac arrest and irregularities, burns, and nerve damage are common in cases where people are struck by lightning.
Tornadoes can occur with little or no warning throughout the year. The peak season, however, is March through May.
If you were to see a tornado approaching, you would only have a short time to make life-or-death decisions. Knowing the basics of tornado safety, planning ahead and holding an annual tornado drill lowers the chance of injury or death if a tornado were to strike in your community.
Seek shelter on the lowest possible floor or in the basement. Under the stairs or in a bathroom or closet are good shelter spots. Do not open or close windows, stay away from them. Crouch on the floor in the egg position.
Seek shelter on the lowest possible floor or a basement, if there is a basement. Stairwells, bathrooms and closets are good spots. Stay away from windows. As a last resort, crawl under your desk.
Seek shelter in interior hallways, small closets and bathrooms. Stay away from windows. Get out of mobile classrooms. Stay out of gymnasiums, auditoriums and other rooms with a large expanse of roof. Bus drivers should be alert for bad weather on their routes.
At The Mall
Seek shelter against an interior wall. An enclosed hallway or fire exit leading away from the main mall concourse is a good spot. Stay away from skylights and large open areas.
If no shelter is available, go outside and lie on the ground, if possible in a ditch or depression. Use your arms to protect your head and neck and wait for the storm to pass. While waiting, be alert for the flash floods that sometimes accompany tornadoes.
Never try to outrun a tornado in a car. A tornado can toss cars and trucks around like toys. If you see a funnel cloud or hear a tornado warning issued, get out of your vehicle and find safe shelter. If no shelter is available, lie down in a low area using your arms to cover the back of your head and neck. Be sure to stay alert for flooding.
About 85 percent of tsunamis occur in the Pacific Ocean, but North Carolina residents living or vacationing at the beach should be prepared nonetheless. A tsunami is a huge ocean wave that can hit coastal areas and surge inland 1,000 feet or more. The debris-filled water can cause great destruction and loss of life within minutes. Earthquakes or underwater landslides can trigger a tsunami, which can travel across an entire ocean basin within hours at speeds of 600 mph. The speed of a tsunami wave decreases as it approaches the coast, but its height increases by as much as 100 feet. In the open ocean, tsunamis would not be felt by ships or seen from the air because the wavelength would be hundreds of miles long. During the past four centuries, at least 40 tsunamis have hit the U.S. Atlantic coast, though most of them have been minor. Only one Atlantic-wide tsunami has been documented – one that was generated by an earthquake near Lisbon, Portugal, in 1755. Although the risk of a tsunami striking the east coast is not great, the N.C. Emergency Management Division has included plans for responding to a tsunami in their training and education programs with local officials.
If you feel an earthquake or hear a sizable ground rumbling and you see a noticeable rapid rise or fall in coastal waters, those are good warning signs for a tsunami. Seek higher ground immediately. Don’t wait for official evacuation orders.
The International Tsunamis Information Center provides the following helpful information:
Tsunamis can be detected by use of our human senses:
Wear multiple layers of thin clothing instead of a single layer of thick clothing. You’ll be warmer and you can easily remove layers to remain comfortable.
Always keep at least a seven day supply of non-perishable food in your home and a gallon of water per person per day.
If you absolutely must travel, the North Carolina Highway Patrol recommends the following precautions: