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With Hurricane Florence barreling toward the East Coast as an extremely dangerous Category 4 storm, the number one priority for everyone in the storm’s path should be physical safety, both for themselves and for family, friends, and neighbors. Virginia’s Governor Northam has ordered a mandatory evacuation of Zone A, in Southeastern Virginia’s Eastern Shore and Tidewater regions.
Official Advice. A good resource for information on getting prepared, and for staying up-to-date on emergency management alerts is the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, where you can sign up for VDEM email alerts and updates. Because the path of the storm is unpredictable, it is important to stay as connected as you can to local, state, and federal authorities as the storm progresses, so that you have up-to-date information about evacuations, places to shelter from the storm, and any weather and forecast updates.
Supplies. For some helpful lists of specific preparedness actions, visit the National Hurricane Survival Initiative’s website. They recommend that everyone stock home basics in an easy-to-carry waterproof container, including:
- Water (3 day supply for people and pets)
- Food (3 day supply for people and pets)
- First aid supplies
- Clothing (at least one change)
- Emergency supplies
- Important documents
- Important memorabilia
Be sure to have at least a 3-day supply of food and water on hand for every person and pet in your household, as well as one complete change of clothing and shoes for each person. Place any important documents–birth certificates, insurance paperwork, passports, bank documents, and irreplaceable memorabilia such as photographs–in ziplock bags to protect them.
Visual Record. The damage caused by Florence is predicted to be catastrophic. Not everything in your home can be taken with you or moved to higher ground, and it is a good idea to photograph or video record anything of value in your home so that in the clean-up afterwards your insurance company will have an accurate record of your belongings, and a clear sense of the loss and damages incurred. This can potentially make recovery from the storm’s damages a little bit more manageable.
Pets. It is also important to remember that if you are a pet owner, you must include your pet in any preparedness and evacuation planning. It is crucial that your pet have identifying tags securely fastened to them, and it’s also a good idea to have a photograph of your pet available just in case he or she goes missing, and be aware that some shelters are unable to take pets. Have pet carriers and harnesses at the ready, for safe and fast evacuation. For more in depth advice on how to prepare for an evacuation with pets, and what to do during and after an evacuation, visit the ASPCA’s website, or Top Dog’s comprehensive blog on pet disaster preparedness.
As always, we are wishing you health and safety in the coming days. We’ll be working to help our neighbors, especially in the coastal towns near our Hopewell and Richmond offices. And we’ll be here to help if you get in a situation where someone else’s carelessness leads to a serious, life-changing injury that requires careful negotiation with the insurance companies.