A lovely climate and proximity to the Atlantic’s warm waters are huge draws for the Cape Fear region. But with those attractions comes the occasional worry of hurricanes and tropical storms. Newcomers to the region who haven’t been through a major hurricane can benefit by knowing what to expect – and how to protect themselves and their homes.
First, it’s important to remember that a hurricane strong enough to cause more than minor inconvenience is a rare occurrence. Historically, these storms have impacted the greater Wilmington area only once or twice in each decade. So be prepared, but don’t worry unnecessarily.
Here are a few practical tips that can give you peace of mind when the inevitable does finally happen.
- Location matters. If your home is on the beach, or near a waterway, you have concerns that won’t affect people living inland. For example, beach towns will order evacuations if a major storm is expected to arrive within 24 hours, because of the danger of rising sea water. Evacuations are hardly ever recommended elsewhere.
- Understand your insurance. Hurricane damage is covered by either your wind and rain policy, by flood insurance, or both, but not by the standard homeowners insurance. It’s a good idea to know where all your policies are. Be prepared to take them and other important documents with you on short notice if for any reason you have to leave home.
- Except for beach houses or mobile homes, it’s almost always safer and more comfortable to stay home rather than to try to leave town. It’s no fun to spend hours in your car, stuck in a traffic jam, during a severe storm.
- Often a tropical storm’s greatest damage is from falling trees or limbs. Take a few minutes now to inspect your yard and see if any weak or overhanging branches might potentially come down on the house or other property. The time to correct any problems is now, not when a storm watch is issued!
- Fill up your car’s gas tank well before the storm arrives. You won’t be able to buy fuel if gas stations lose their electricity.
- Move cars, boats and other valuable items out from under trees when possible. Bring in or secure loose items like lawn furniture that can blow around in heavy winds. Waterproof deck furniture can be safely sunk in a swimming pool to keep it from blowing.
- Be prepared to spend at least some time without electricity. That means have some form of lighting, including flashlights or camp lanterns. Oil lamps and candles can be useful, but use care and common sense to avoid fire hazards. Don’t leave candles burning unattended.
- If your water comes from a private well, fill gallon jugs so you’ll have water for drinking, cooking and washing if your pump loses power. A bathtub full of water and a bucket will let you flush toilets.
- You’re likely to lose at least some of your preferred information sources. Cable TV often goes out in a major storm, which may also sever your Internet connection. A well-charged cell phone and a battery-powered radio, ideally one with TV and weather bands, can help you stay informed.
- If you have a cordless “land line” phone, it won’t work without electricity. But you probably can still use that land line. Phone lines usually keep working even when power is out. A no-frills corded phone set costing less than $20 will keep you connected during an emergency.
- If your power is out for more than a few hours, food will be a concern. It’s a good idea to always have several days’ supply of food that doesn’t require refrigeration. Try to keep your refrigerator closed to keep food cold as long as possible. One easy trick: If you have a day’s warning, fill two or three gallon jugs with water and freeze them. Put those solid blocks of ice in the refrigerator to keep your food safely chilled for an extra couple of days.
- If you have a generator, or are cooking with a gas or charcoal grill or a camp stove, be careful to use them in a place that’s well ventilated, like a porch or garage.
As people who have lived here a long time know, hurricanes are part of life on the coast, but a little knowledge and some advance preparation will go a long way to help you safely ride out a storm.
Have a question about buying, selling or any other real estate matter? Let me know and I’ll address it in a future article.
Michelle Clark is a broker with Intracoastal Realty, based at the Wrightsville Beach office. She is an Accredited Luxury Home Specialist, ALHS and also a Short Sales and Foreclosure Resource. Whether you are buying, selling, or investing, know that Michelle and her team will go the extra mile for you. To learn more about Michelle and Intracoastal, go to www.intracoastalrealty.com. You may contact Michelle at [email protected] or 910-367-9767. Like Michelle’s team on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MichelleClarkTeam.