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Hurricane Helper

A Primer for Hurricane Season

Hurricane season officially started on Wednesday (6.01). That means that before we start thinking about the Saints, there is some work to be done. It’s time for federal agencies to issue forecasts, locals to stockpile water (as well as adult beverages,) and the tech savvy to download apps. NoDef offers this handy primer on the humid months ahead.


The Outlook

The feds are predicting an active hurricane or “near normal” season in the Atlantic. According to the official National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecast, there's a a 70 percent chance of 10-16 named storms. Between four and eight of those storms could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph plus), while one to four could be major hurricanes of Category 3 (winds of 111 mph plus) or higher.


“Near-normal may sound relaxed and encouraging, but we could be in for more activity than we've seen in recent years," stressed NOAA big-wig Kathryn Sullivan.


2016 has already seen two named storms. In January, Hurricane Alex formed and last Saturday (5.28), Tropical Storm Bonnie made landfall in South Carolina.


Future storms will be named Colin, Danielle, Earl, Fiona, Gaston, Hermine, Ian, Julia, Karl, Lisa, Matthew, Nicole, Otto, Paula, Richard, Shary, Tobias, Virginie, and Walter as needed.


Locally, leaders are urging preparedness. “We’ve learned what best practices are, and it’s really important that not only we’re prepared but that the only way this works is for citizens to take personal responsibility and to have a plan,” noted Mayor Mitch.



Step one of that preparation involves stockpiling some supplies. It’s a good idea to get some basics together before the storms starts to form. At that point, stores start to run out of stock and some unscrupulous merchants raise prices. A basic, "official" list follows.


    •    portable self-powered light source

    •    portable self-powered radio, two-way radio, or weather band radio

    •    tarpaulin or other flexible waterproof sheeting

    •    any ground anchor system or tie down kit

    •    any gas or diesel fuel tank

    •    any package of AAA-cell, AA-cell, D-cell, 6-volt, or 9-volt batteries, excluding automobile and boat batteries

    •    any cellular phone battery and any cellular phone charger

    •    any non-electric food storage cooler

    •    any “storm shutter device” as defined in Louisiana Revised Statute 47:305:58

    •    any blue ice product

    •    any portable generator used to provide light or communications or preserve food in the event of a power outage

    •    a first aid kit


All of the items above are critical for storm preparedness. However, the list doesn’t cover basics such as water, canned foods, snacks, or medicine (including alcohol). Anyone who has boarded up their windows for a three-day stretch inside understands a few things about beating the heat, including the right kind of fans for the job.


So, the mindful resident might want to stash away a few more items. For starters, pick up a few gallon jugs of water and put them in the back of your closet. Likewise, on your next trip to Cost-Co, grab your favorite canned foods. Another bulk item that will come in handy is a giant bottle of Advil. (When you’ve spent four days, sans power, sweating with your family and friends, headaches are common. That lifetime supply sized bottle will start to look small.) Some board games are also recommended. Eventually, the initial rush wears off and everyone needs something to do.


Cash is king, especially during a storm when no electricity means no credit card machines. Take a couple nights off from the bar now and stash away some hard currency in a waterproof bag. Don’t wait until the storm when a bad week of expenses or tips might leave you without food during a hurricane.


Finally, there is the crucial issue of booze. Drinking is fun. A little buzz also helps you drift off to sleep when the barometer is off the chart and the AC is broken. However, remember that no electricity may mean no ice. So, you want to opt for beverages that do not require chilling like whiskey or red wine.



When the weather does turn ugly, information is key. In New Orleans, residents can visit, or call NOLA 311 to get information about hurricane preparedness. NoDef also has a handy guide for hunkering.


For those partial to mobile apps and push alerts, the City of New Orleans also sends text alerts through the NOLA Ready system. Those looking for a more comprehensive smartphone tool kit should turn to the American Red Cross' hurricane app, which includes preparedness information, text alerts and a built-in strobe light.


FEMA also offers an app. The upgraded software offers resources for tracking disasters, preparation, and the aftermath. President Obama has been plugging the download recently and it is worth the download. However, anyone who experienced Katrina, the Federal Flood, or the early recovery can attest to the horrendous track record that the federal agency boasts.


Weather geeks can also check out dozens of apps designed to track storms, some specifically hurricanes.



Finally, leaders from Landrieu to the POTUS are extremely emphatic that should an evacuation order be issued, citizens should comply. “If your local authorities ask you to evacuate, you have to do it. Don't wait," Obama declared at a presser last week.

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