State Officials Stress Importance of Hurricane Preparedness

HYANNIS – Governor Charlie Baker wants Massachusetts residents to be ready for possible major storms this summer and fall and has proclaimed it Hurricane Preparedness Week.

The week promotes the importance of preparing for the effects that potential hurricanes and tropical storms have on residents, homes, businesses and infrastructure.

Historically, severe storms that have impacted the Northeast generally occur from late August through September, so the state uses the early part of the summer to get people thinking about hurricane preparedness.

“It’s a mindset,” said Chris Besse, the Social Media and Public Information Coordinator for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency. “A lot of times people’s lives are busy and they may not be thinking about until they see a storm coming up the coast.”

Besse said many of the recommended preparedness actions can be used for emergency situations any time during the year, including nor’easters in the winter, a summer hurricane or spring thunderstorms that cause power outages.

MEMA recommendations include knowing evacuation zones. Massachusetts has established hurricane evacuation zones in each of the state’s coastal communities. These zones, designated as Zone A, Zone B and Zone C, identify the areas of coastal communities that are at risk for storm surge flooding from tropical storms or hurricanes. If evacuations are necessary because of an approaching tropical storm or hurricane, local or state officials will use the hurricane evacuation zones to call for people living, working or vacationing in these areas to evacuate.

To Find out if you live, work or vacation in a hurricane evacuation zone, visit the ‘Know Your Zone’ interactive map located on MEMA’s website atwww.mass.gov/knowyourzone.

Families should also develop a communication plan in case family members get separated from one another during a hurricane or other emergencies.

“Many times in storms we see power outages and we see communication systems disrupted and the idea is that people have a plan of what they are going to do and how they can communicate with family members,” Besse said.

Communication plans can include having key phone number written down or establishing designated meeting areas in case they can’t get to their home or street.

Residents should also learn how they will stay informed during a storm and know where they can get information whether from television, radio, or social media and having alternatives in case one or more of those systems is unavailable.

“We really encourage people to sign up for their local community’s notification systems because that lets people get the information directly from their local officials,” Besse said.

MEMA also provides a lot of information on it’s Twitter account, @MassEMA, and Facebook page.

“We do that both for preparedness information all year long but also during emergencies.”

For detailed information about hurricanes and tropical storms and the hazards they present, along with safety tips visit mass.gov/mema.

Emergency kits can also be useful during hurricanes and other emergency situations as well.

“We want people to have supplies so they can be self-sufficient,” Besse said. “For some that can be emergency supplies in their home if they can’t leave their home.”

These kit items include food, bottled water, a flashlight and radio with batteries pet supplies, a charged cell phone and medications.

MEMA also recommends residents have a “go kit” ready as well in case evacuations are required. These “go kits” or small bags should also include medications, extra eyeglasses and children’s items, like diapers and formula, food and supplies for pets, clothes and other items you or your family may need during an emergency.

Emergency kits should contain enough supplies to last at least 72 hours.

The official Atlantic Hurricane season is underway and runs through the end of November.

Forecasters with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are predicting an active hurricane season in the Atlantic.

The University of Arizona says its model predicts there will only be four hurricanes this season, with only two reaching category three or higher. That would be considered a below average season.

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