With Memorial Day kicking off the summer and warm weather here to stay, it’s time to prepare for the seasonal threat to the Mid-Atlantic region from hurricanes and other severe weather events. Ahead of the start of hurricane and flash flood season on June 1, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced an anticipated “below average” hurricane season made up of three to five hurricanes. One or two of those storms are expected to be major events.
While this may be fewer storms than typical, that’s no reason to be unprepared. It only takes one storm to have a significant impact on Northern Virginia. The derecho that moved through the region in 2012 didn’t last long, but left thousands without power for days afterward.
Governor McAuliffe last week announced a sales tax holiday to promote preparedness. Emergency supplies that cost less than $60 will be exempt from Virginia’s sales tax from May 25 – 31. Virginians should stock up on all essential materials during this time – bottled water, batteries, canned food, manual can openers, first aid kits, and duct tape. Generators under $1,000 are also eligible for the sales tax holiday.
Each family should prepare an emergency kit that is ready to go before a storm hits. Your emergency kit should have food, water, medications, a first aid kit, batteries, flashlights, and other essentials on hand to last several days. Be sure to fill up your car’s gas tank. Use this sales tax holiday to stock up on any supplies you don’t have.
Even more important than supplies of course is a family emergency plan. Making a plan now, before it’s needed, and carefully reviewing it with each of your family members is key to avoiding panic and making costly mistakes in the event a storm significantly impacts the D.C. area.
Finally, be sure you are informed. Here are a list of helpful websites to learn more about storms and preparing yourself and your family:
• Track storm paths at the National Hurricane Center – nhc.noaa.gov
When listening to the weather forecast, it is important to understand the meaning of watches and warnings. A Hurricane Watch means hurricane conditions are possible, usually within 36 hours and a Hurricane Warning means hurricane conditions are expected, usually within 24 hours.
For low-lying areas in close proximity to the Potomac River and major streams, flooding is possible. Please take flood preparation into account.
Falls Church Office of Emergency Management: 703-248-5200
Dominion Power: 1-866-DOM-HELP (1-866-366-4357) to report power outages
Washington Gas: www.washgas.com or 703-750-1000
Virginia Department of Emergency Management: vaemergency.gov/readyvirginia
American Red Cross Hurricane Safety Checklist: redcross.org/prepare/disaster/hurricane
Disaster preparedness requires us to hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst. The tips and information above will help your family prep for weather events impacting Northern Virginia.