Last week was Hurricane Preparedness Week. June 1 brings the start of another hurricane season — and bad weather already is here. The last two weeks have seen days of flooding rains (but, thank goodness, nothing like those visited on Houston, Austin and other Texas cities) and even an EF1 tornado in Kenner's Rivertown.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued its annual hurricane forecast last week at New Orleans City Hall. NOAA says 2015 should be a below-normal year for hurricane activity, which of course is good news.
Here's the bad news: It only takes one — and that one doesn't have to be a full hurricane. For some of us, the sight of last week's floods in Houston was familiar. In 2001, slow-moving Tropical Storm Allison, which formed early in June, dropped 37 inches of rain on Houston, submerging some freeways. By the time Allison got here, the storm dumped 10 inches of rain in less than 12 hours on some communities, causing more floods and an estimated $65 million in damage across Louisiana. Imagine 37 inches of rain in New Orleans.
Now's the time to get prepared.
Check your supplies — canned goods, manual can opener, fresh batteries, tool kit, medicines, fire extinguisher, pet food and large garbage bags. (Wet wipes in the house and in the car are handy and a phone charger in both locations is smart.) The rule of thumb for bottled water is 1 gallon per person per day. During hurricane season, it's a good idea to keep your car fully fueled. Know where you're going to go if you have to evacuate.
Keep some cash on hand in case credit and debit card networks go down. Pet owners need a supply of food, a carrier and proof of up-to-date vaccinations. (Never stay during a mandatory evacuation because of your pets. Take them with you.) And it wouldn't hurt to put your important papers and irreplaceable family photos in one place where they're easy to grab. (Those who didn't during Katrina regretted it.)
For those who need assistance, the city of New Orleans provides "Evacuspots," where buses will pick up those who need help. There are 17 Evacuspots across the city, four of which are designed for seniors. A few notes on that:
• Those with special needs or limited mobility that may prevent them from getting to an Evacuspot by themselves should register with the city in advance. To do so, call 311, or register online at www.nola.gov/ready/health.
• A map of all Evacuspots is available at www.nola.gov/ready/evacuspots/map.
• The city's emergency preparedness website, www.nola.gov/ready, has helpful advice about hurricane preparation and offers emergency alerts by email, phone or text.
Once you're prepared, keep a close eye on weather conditions during hurricane season, and make sure everyone in your family knows what to do if a storm is coming. Most of all, if city officials announce an evacuation, be prepared to leave.
— Our partners at WWL-TV will air their annual "Eye on Hurricanes" special at 7 p.m. Monday, June 1. The broadcast also can be viewed at www.wwltv.com. For up-to-the-minute weather news, visit your smartphone's app store to download the free WWL-TV "Weathercaster" app for mobile devices.