Every now and then nature reminds us that we are small and cannot control everything about our planet.
We used to live in San Francisco, CA, where everyone is very aware of earthquake and forest fires. Although here in Charleston we are also located on top of a fault line, no one seems to worry about earthquakes, maybe because the last major quake happened in 1886 (although in 1995 there was a minor one). Here, hurricanes are THE big deal.
Every year, from May to November, the "Hurricane Season Soap" keeps us glued to the TV set and frazzled! Here it comes! It's going to be a direct hit! It turned toward Florida! It's turning again toward us! Now it IS coming! It's a Category 1, 2, 3...Will we have to evacuate? Do we have to cover the windows with plywood?
I find that native Charlestonians don't worry too much about a hurricane until they are sure the danger is imminent. However, for those of us who are not used to living on this area of the country, Hurricane Season is a stressful time...
Mind you, I think hurricanes are better than earthquakes: At least you can anticipate them and prepare for them. And it is always better to be prepared than taken by surprise. Here are some preparation guidelines that may be useful to you:
- Clean debris and leaves from your roof, gutters, yard and street drainages. Nail and seal loose shingles and caulk all windows, doors and siding to prevent flooding and water penetration. Remember that your homeowners insurance policy does not cover flood damages (did you remember to buy flood insurance?)
- Trim all bushes and trees that are close to your house to prevent damage from abrasion. Look carefully at all your trees, cut dry-loose limbs. If a tree doesn't look healthy it is best to cut it down (remember you may need a permit from the city/county to cut a tree of a certain size)
- Bring inside all objects that could move with strong winds: Planters, bicycles, chairs, tables, BBQ, trampolines, etc. Park your car in the garage.
- Prepare for the possibility of a heavy tropical storm or a mandatory evacuation. Prepare all your important documents and store them in a waterproof container, including your insurance policies for your home. Take some cash out of the bank in case ATMs are out of service. Buy enough non-perishable food and water to last 3 or 4 days. Have enough flashlights, batteries gas stoves and a radio to be able to survive without electricity.
- Have an emergency plan in case of a mandatory evacuation. Where are you going? Which way are you taking? Try to avoid leaving at the last minute, together with 90% of the city.
Let's hope that no hurricane heads our way, but in case it does, it is better to be prepared! Here are some online resources that can help you get prepared:
The Red Cross:
Charleston County Emergency Preparedness:
Preparing Your Boat for a Hurricane:
Kids Hurricane Information:
Alan Donald is a bilingual Realtor® with Keller Williams Realty. You can visit his website BuyHomesInCharleston.com or ask him questions by email at email@example.com or by leaving a voice mail at (843) 416-1434.