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Be ready for hurricanes

For most folks, hurricane preparation typically involves hitting the supermarket a day or two before a storm is forecast to hit, cleaning the store out of all of its bread and water, and then hunkering down at home and hoping the power doesn’t go out.

After all, advance warning of a hurricane hitting this area usually comes by at least a few days, sometimes a week or more in advance. Why prepare now when it can just be done if a hurricane actually heads this way?

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Preparation for hurricane season should start well in advance of any storm, and the more you do now, the less hectic the week before the storm will be.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration last Thursday said during a phone conference with reporters that there is a 75-percent chance this season will be near or above normal in terms of hurricane activity.

As if on cue, Subtropical Storm Alberto formed near the Gulf of Mexico Friday morning. It appeared destined to threaten the gulf coast of eastern Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida panhandle by Memorial Day. Alberto was a subtropical storm because it is poorly structured, but it could have formed into a tropical storm as it moved over the warmer waters of the gulf, where the weather is more conducive for the development of these kinds of storms.

Hurricane season doesn’t even officially begin until June 1, so Alberto had a full week’s head start. This should be a sign to anyone who was planning on putting off preparations until the last minute that doing so would not be a good idea.

  • Here are some of the most important things you can do to prepare for a hurricane well ahead of time:
  • Visit www.knowyourzoneva.org and find out what evacuation zone you are in.
  • Find out if you are in a flood zone, and purchase flood insurance if you haven’t already.
  • Review or create your family’s emergency plan. Know the local hurricane evacuation routes and have a plan for where you would stay. Designate an out-of-town contact.
  • Put together a bag containing a flashlight, batteries, cash, first aid supplies, medications and copies of critical papers and information, including insurance policies.
  • Have adequate supplies in case you lose power and water for several days and are not able to leave due to flooding or blocked roads.
  • Purchase a generator and trim or remove damaged trees and limbs.