September is National Preparedness Month, and while many communities in the Southeast are still recovering from last year’s historic natural disasters, FEMA encourages residents to take the time now to choose disaster preparedness as a personal priority this year.
“Last year was especially difficult for communities across our region,” said Region IV Administrator Gracia Szczech. “The Southeast endured severe storms and tornadoes, and the fifth costliest hurricane – Irma – in our nation’s history. We cannot guarantee that we will not see another year like 2017,” she said. “But we can help our region’s 61 million residents understand how they can reduce their personal risk and help make their communities more resilient.”
National Preparedness Month focuses on the need to be ready for disasters and emergencies.
“September is also the peak of hurricane season, so preparing now is even more critical for families and businesses in the Southeast,” said Szczech. “Preparedness is a shared responsibility. While government plays a role, individuals, organizations, and businesses have important things to do to be ready for the unexpected.”
FEMA is concentrating on these preparedness themes each week of September to help residents create their own culture of preparedness:
- Make and practice your family’s preparedness plan so your family knows how to reconnect and reunite when an emergency strikes.
- Learn life safety skills. Neighbors and coworkers are often the first to take action immediately after a disaster strikes. Train to be a citizen responder through CPR and first aid training or learn how to be the help until help arrives.
- Check your insurance coverage. Most homeowner’s insurance policies do not cover damage or losses from flooding, earthquakes, or high winds in hurricane-prone areas. If you’re not insured against those hazards, talk to your insurance agent.
- Save for an emergency. Anticipate initial out-of-pocket disaster expenses for lodging, food, gas, and more. A 2016 survey by the Federal Reserve revealed that 44 percent of Americans indicated they would not have enough money to cover a $400 emergency expense.
Also, download and use the free FEMA app, which provides valuable safety tips to help you prepare for and recover from natural and man-made hazards. The FEMA app lets you receive weather alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five locations across the nation, making it easy to follow severe weather that may be threatening your family and friends.
The app also provides family communication plans, a customizable checklist of emergency supplies, and maps of open shelters and disaster recovery centers. The app is available on the Apple App Store and Google Play.
Seasonal forecasters with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center have increased the likelihood of a below-normal Atlantic hurricane season to 60 percent (up from 25 percent in May) in a recent updated outlook. The likelihood of a near-normal season is now at 30 percent, and the chance of an above-normal season has dropped from 35 percent to 10 percent.
For the entire season, which ends Nov. 30, NOAA predicts a total of 9-13 named storms (winds of 39 mph or greater) of which 4-7 will become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or greater), including 0-2 major hurricanes (winds of 111 mph or greater).