Emergency Officials Stress Readiness During Hurricane Season

FRAMINGHAM – NOAA is predicting an above-normal number of coastal storms during hurricane season and Governor Charlie Baker is stressing readiness this week.

Baker has proclaimed it Hurricane Preparedness week in the state and is promoting the importance of being ready for the impacts that hurricanes and tropical storms can have on residents, homes, businesses and infrastructure.

“It’s never too early to start preparing yourself, family, home and business for a tropical storm or hurricane,” Baker said. “As we enter into hurricane season, major storms can occur at any time, and making emergency and evacuation plans can minimize damage and the impact on public safety.”

The Atlantic hurricane season runs through the end of November and forecasters with NOAA say there is a 70 percent chance of 11 to 17 named storms, of which five to nine could become hurricanes, including 2 to 4 possible major hurricanes.

“All residents of the Commonwealth should prepare for the impacts of a tropical storm or hurricane,” said Kurt Schwartz, the director of MEMA. “Hurricanes and tropical storms can affect the entire state, and history has shown that these powerful storms can produce devastating impacts, including deadly storm surge, heavy inland rainfall and flooding, and destructive winds, even if they do not make direct landfall in Massachusetts.”

Residents in the state are encouraged to know their hurricane evacuation zones, which were established in each of the state’s coastal communities.

The zones are designated Zone A, B and C and identify the areas that are at risk for storm surge flooding from storms.

To find out if you live, work or vacation in an evacuation zone check the ‘Know Your Zone’ interactive map on the MEMA website at www.mass.gov/knowyourzone.

Storm surge is often the greatest threat to life and property from powerful storms and it can occur at different times and locations from a storm’s strong winds.

New this year, the National Weather Service will issue storm surge watches and warnings to alert residents of areas that have a significant risk of life-threatening inundation.

The watches and warnings will help local and state officials make better informed evacuation decisions.

Residents are also encouraged to make and emergency plan in case your family needs to take action before or during a storm.

A family communications plan will help members stay in touch and find each other in an emergency. Families should also create an evacuation plan with details of where you will go, how you will get there, what you will bring and what you will do with your pets.

Families should also have a shelter-in-place plan, which includes stockpiling items needed to stay comfortable at home.

Emergency kits should also be prepared as strong storms can cause extended power outages, flooding and blocked roads. Kits should include enough materials to sustain families for at least 72 hours.

Every emergency kit should include bottled water, food, a flashlight, a radio with extra batteries, a first aid kit, sanitation items, clothing, cash and a charged cell phone.

Depending on needs of specific families, kits should also include medications, extra eyeglasses, medical equipment and supplies, childrens items like diapers and formula, and food and supplies for pets.

Residents should also monitor media reports and follow instructions from public safety officials if a storm is approaching.

Tools which can help residents stay informed are the Massachusetts Alerts App for Apple and Android devices, social media websites including Twitter and Facebook accounts for MEMA, the emergency call center Mass 2-1-1 and local emergency notification systems.

For more information and hurricane safety tips visit www.mass.gov/eopss/agencies/mema/emergencies/hurricanes/.

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