The images of destruction caused by Hurricane Florence last week were haunting — the seawater inundation, the wall of rain, the high-powered winds forceful enough to topple age-old trees and gas station roofs. They were particularly frightening, though, for Long Islanders, many of whom are still reeling from the havoc and devastation that Hurricane Sandy wrought six years ago.
We must always be vigilant during hurricane season, which began June 1 and lasts through October. September is the height of the season, when the Atlantic Ocean is most “active” — meaning that the ocean waters have warmed enough to generate hurricanes.
Last year we saw three catastrophic hurricanes strike in short succession — in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico. Long Island is vulnerable to a hurricane strike at any time during the season. It’s critical that people review what to do and not to do if another major storm such as Sandy were to hit here.
For starters, if you live in a mandatory evacuation zone, by all means, leave when called on to do so. Staying at home would do no one any good. In fact, if you were threatened by rising sea waters, as was the case for so many of us during Sandy, you would endanger the first responders who would have to come get you — and they would be the first to tell you that they would likely be unable to get you.
According to the American Red Cross, as a hurricane is approaching, you should:
• Listen to local area radio, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration radio or TV stations for the latest information and updates.
• Be prepared to evacuate quickly, and know your routes and destinations. Find a local emergency shelter.
• Check your emergency kit and replenish any items missing or in short supply, especially medications or other medical supplies. Keep it nearby.
• Fill plastic bottles with clean water for drinking.
• Fill bathtubs and sinks with water for flushing the toilet or washing the floor or clothing.
• Fill your car’s gas tank, in case an evacuation notice is issued.
• Turn off propane tanks and unplug small appliances.
• Bring in bicycles and patio furniture.
• Move your furniture and valuables to higher floors of your home.
• Turn off utilities if told to do so by authorities to prevent damage to your home or neighborhood.
• Unplug small appliances to reduce potential damage from power surges that may occur.
• Consider a precautionary evacuation of your pets, especially if they’re large or numerous. Waiting until the last minute could be fatal for them and dangerous for you.
• Bring your companion animals indoors and maintain direct control of them. Be sure that your pet emergency kit is ready to go in case of evacuation.
What an emergency kit should include
• Nonperishable food.
• Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible).
• Extra batteries.
• First aid kit.
• Medications (seven-day supply).
• Multi-purpose tool.
• Sanitation and personal hygiene items.
• Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies).
• Cell phone with chargers.
• Family and emergency contact information.
• Extra cash.
• Emergency blanket.
• Map(s) of the area.
• Medical supplies (hearing aids with extra batteries, glasses, contact lenses, syringes).
• Baby supplies (bottles, formula, baby food, diapers).
• Games and activities for children.
• Pet supplies (collar, leash, ID, food, carrier, bowl).
• Two-way radios.
• Extra set of car keys and house keys.
• Manual can opener.
• N95 or surgical masks.
• Rain gear.
• Work gloves.
• Tools/supplies for securing your home.
• Extra clothing, hat and sturdy shoes.
• Plastic sheeting.
• Duct tape.
• Household liquid bleach.
• Blankets or sleeping bags.
To donate to the American Red Cross’s relief effort to aid the victims of Hurricane Florence, go to www.redcross.org.