With Hurricane Season Underway, State Officials Stress Preparedness

FRAMINGHAM – With the 2019 Atlantic Hurricane season underway, officials with the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency are advising Bay State residents to be aware of, and prepare for tropical storms and hurricanes.

June 1 marked the official start of the Atlantic Hurricane Season, which runs through November 30. While the majority of tropical storms and hurricanes that have impacted New England occurred during the months of August and September, MEMA says people should be preparing for the storms as early as June.

Throughout hurricane season, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency will share preparedness information to help residents ready for the impacts of tropical storms and hurricanes.

“One of the key things that we try to promote is that the state has hurricane evacuation zones,” said MEMA Public Information Officer Christopher Besse.

“Those are different areas along the coast that may be subject to storm surge, which is the ocean pushing inland, that may happen during a tropical storm or a hurricane. We have a website setup with maps, interactive maps and static maps about hurricane evacuation zone.”

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration seasonal outlook predicts a near normal number of hurricanes this season. As the outlook is for overall seasonal activity and is not a landfall forecast, all residents are encouraged to be prepared during hurricane season.

Whether a slow or active hurricane season, MEMA officials stress that it only takes one storm to make landfall and severely impact an area.

“The beginning of hurricane season is a great opportunity for all residents of the Commonwealth to prepare for the impacts of a tropical storm or hurricane,” said MEMA Director Samantha Phillips. 

“MEMA encourages everyone to learn if they live in a hurricane evacuation zone, make an emergency plan, assemble an emergency kit, and stay informed.”

Know Your Evacuation Zone

Massachusetts has defined hurricane evacuation zones, designated as Zone A, Zone B and Zone C, for areas of the state at risk for storm surge flooding associated with tropical storms or hurricanes.

If evacuations are necessary because of a tropical storm or hurricane, local or state officials will notify people living, working, or vacationing in evacuation zones to leave the area for their safety. Even areas not directly along a coastline may be at risk for storm surge flooding during a tropical storm or hurricane.

“Obviously, different parts of the state are impacted by different hazards. There’s the wind, the rain and the potential for coastal flooding and storm surge. So, for the people on the Cape and Islands, they’re really subject to all of those,” said Besse.

“The reason for those the hurricane evacuation zones and that storm surge is the biggest hazard is because it can really be the most destructive. Historically, storm surge is what kills the most people during hurricanes. If a storm is coming and storm surge is forecasted for a certain area, state or local officials may call for evacuations in some low-lying areas. People need to know if they’re in one of those area, so if it does occur they know if they need to evacuate.”

Make an Emergency Plan

Develop a plan with the members of your household to prepare for what to do, how to find each other, and how to communicate in a tropical storm or hurricane. An emergency plan should include:

  • Meeting Locations
  • Emergency Contact Information
  • Evacuation Plans
  • Shelter-in-Place Plans
  • Considerations for Family Members with Access and Functional Needs, and Pets

“An emergency plan sounds like it’s a big formal thing, but it doesn’t have to be,” said Besse.

“We just want people to sit down and think about if a storm happens, whether it be a hurricane or other natural disaster, that people have a plan of what they’re going to do.”

Build an Emergency Kit

Build an emergency kit containing items that will sustain you and your family in the event you are isolated for three to five days without power or unable to go to a store.

Emergency kits are particularly important during hurricane season, due to potential extended power outages, flooding, and impassable debris-covered roads.

While it is important to customize your kit to meet the unique needs of you and your family, every emergency kit should include bottled water, food, a flashlight, a radio and extra batteries, a first aid kit, sanitation items, and clothing. Depending on your family’s needs, emergency kits should also include medications, extra eyeglasses, medical equipment and supplies, children’s items such as diapers and formula, food and supplies for pets and service animals, and other items you or your family members might need during a disaster.

Stay Informed

Receiving advance warnings and timely emergency alerts and information from public officials is critical to staying safe during a tropical storm or hurricane. Every family should have multiple methods for receiving emergency alerts.

Related Links:

www.mass.gov/knowyourzone

www.mass.gov/mema/hurricanes

By TIM DUNN, CapeCod.com News Center 

About Tim Dunn

Tim Dunn is a native of south coast Massachusetts, growing up in the small town of Mattapoisett and now resides in New Bedford. He’s worked in the CapeCod.com News Center covering everything you need to know about on the Cape.



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