By Tamas Mondovics
One month after the start of the 2014 Hurricane season, Arthur became the first named storm to make landfall and remind residents of the importance of not only being prepared, but to remain hurricane ready.
According to a recent recap of Arthur by The Weather Channel (TWC), Arthur formed quickly and close to shore, leaving little time to prepare as it “interrupted many plans along the East Coast for the Fourth of July.”
The storm began with a disturbance that came off the coast of the Carolinas and drifted south toward the Bahamas and became a tropical depression on Monday, June 30 at 11 a.m. EDT off the east coast of Florida, giving the first signs of something much more to come.
Three days later, Arthur reached hurricane strength off the coast of South Carolina, then tracked to the north-northeast and made landfall as a Category 2 hurricane, packing 100 mph winds, at Shackleford Banks, N.C.
Hurricane Arthur raked up several ‘firsts’ during its presence. TWC reported that Arthur has become the first hurricane to make landfall in the continental U.S. since Hurricane Isaac struck Louisiana in 2012.
Arthur is also the first hurricane of Category 2 or greater strength to make landfall in the Lower 48 since Hurricane Ike struck Texas in 2008.
In addition, Arthur made landfall earlier on the calendar than any other known hurricane in North Carolina history, TWC said.
Before he was done, the peak reported land gust reached 101 mph at Cape Lookout, N.C.
Arthur’s close encounter and nearby development continues to prompt local officials to urge residents to be hurricane ready on short notice.
“Hurricanes have a mind of their own, like Charley, which caught many people off-guard due to a sudden change in the storm’s track as it approached the state,” said Hillsborough County spokesperson Michelle Van Dyke. “With storms like Charley and Arthur, residents often have to make quick and last minute decisions.”
For this reason, and to help residents to be prepared for the hurricane season that runs through Sunday, November 30, Hillsborough County has released the 2014 Disaster Planning Guide, The Official Guide for the Tampa Bay Area.
Guides are available in English and Spanish at local post offices and County libraries, and at www.HillsboroughCounty.org/Emergency.
County officials said that the guide covers all aspects of hurricane and disaster preparedness, including supply lists, vital safety information, what to do for pets, helpful insurance tips and more.
One piece of critical information in the guide is where evacuation zones are, and what to do when an evacuation is recommended or ordered.
Hillsborough County Emergency Management Director Preston Cook said that being prepared for hurricane season is everyone’s responsibility and should be taken seriously by all residents and visitors as being prepared can significantly reduce the stress that is normally associated with hurricanes.
“Being self-sufficient will help ensure your family’s safety,” Cook said. “The reality is that the government may not be able to reach everyone immediately, and residents should be prepared to provide for themselves for 72 hours following a storm.”
According to a recent AAA Consumer Pulse survey conducted online among residents living in the Southern Region of The Auto Club Group (Florida, Georgia and Tennessee) from April 14 – 21, 2014, nearly 30 percent of Florida residents do not make advanced preparations, while 65 percent say they would only leave for a category three hurricane or greater.
“Residents should stay vigilant and be prepared for a major weather event,” said Mark Jenkins, spokesman, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Part of that preparation includes having a storm kit, evacuation plan and flood insurance. Every home is in a flood zone, whether you live near the coast or not.”
For more information about hurricane preparation, visit.hillsboroughcounty.org/emergency.
AAA also offers these hurricane preparation tips:
• Make a Plan – Develop a family emergency plan to include ways to contact each other, alternative meeting locations and an out-of-town contact person. Identify a safe room or safest areas in your home. Research your evacuation route. Be sure and include plans for your pets.
• Take Inventory – Update your home inventory quickly by walking through your home with a video camera or smart phone. Keep a record of large purchases including the cost of the item, when purchased and model and serial numbers as available.
• Stock Emergency Supplies – Plan for a weeks worth of non-perishable food and water. Be sure and have flashlights, extra batteries, battery-powered radio, medications, first aid kit, blankets, toiletries, diapers, etc. You may also want to prepare a portable kit and keep in your car should you evacuate.
• Protect Your Property – Review your homeowners insurance with your insurance agent to determine if you have adequate protection. Discuss your deductibles. Be aware that flood insurance in not typically covered under your homeowners policy. Flooding to your automobile is available under the physical damage coverage.