AUGUSTA, MAINE — June 1 marks the beginning of the Atlantic Hurricane Season, which extends through November 30. Maine doesn’t usually see many hurricanes, but in 2011 Hurricane Irene, which was downgraded to a tropical storm, still resulted in a disaster declaration in Maine. Hurricane season could also affect Mainers traveling to other destinations. The hurricane outlook from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced last week its forecast of 12 to 17 named storms, five to nine becoming hurricanes, and one to four powering into major hurricanes with winds greater than 110 mph. Normal is 14 named storms, with seven becoming hurricanes, and three of them major hurricanes.
To prepare for a hurricane, you should take the following measures:
- Build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.
- Know your surroundings - especially if you are traveling in unfamiliar territory.
- Learn the elevation level of your property and whether the land is flood prone. This will help you know how your property will be affected when storm surge or tidal flooding are forecasted.
- Identify levees and dams in your area and determine whether they pose a hazard to you.
- Learn community hurricane evacuation routes and how to find higher ground. Determine where you would go and how you would get there if you needed to evacuate.
- Make plans to secure your property:
- If you live in a high-risk area, cover your home’s windows. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows. A second option is to board up windows with custom cut to fit plywood. Tape does not prevent windows from breaking.
- Install straps or additional clips to securely fasten your roof to the frame structure. This will reduce roof damage.
- Be sure trees and shrubs around your home are well trimmed so they are more wind resistant.
- Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts.
- Reinforce your garage doors; if wind enters a garage, it can cause dangerous and expensive structural damage.
- Plan to bring in all outdoor furniture, decorations, garbage cans, and anything else that is not tied down.
- Determine how and where to secure your boat.
- Install a generator for emergencies.
Next month, look for preparedness tips and safety information on MEMA’s Facebook or Twitter during the National Weather Service’s National Hurricane Preparedness Week from July 9 – 15. You can also visit MEMA’s website or learn more at www.MainePrepares.com.