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Stay, or evacuate? It's Hurricane Preparedness Week. Here are some things to plan

Stay, or evacuate? It's Hurricane Preparedness Week. Here are some things to plan
Posted at 9:01 AM, May 07, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-07 09:01:11-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Virginia (WTKR) -- From flooded cars to damaged homes, the U.S. is no stranger to the devastation of hurricanes.

This week is a reminder for people to get ready: It’s National Hurricane Preparedness week.

There is one big question for people: To stay ... or evacuate? How people plan during a hurricane should be based on that question.

FOR THOSE WHO STAY HOME

Create a disaster kit and keep it freshly supplied. Basic items are all you need and shouldn't be too expensive. Suggested items include water, a flashlight, food and a mobile phone charger. With hurricane season just a few weeks away, officials say you need to start getting those items now.

“This is definitely the time to get in gear, to start working on it to start working on your plan,” said Erin Sutton, the Emergency Manager for Virginia Beach’s Emergency Management Department. “If you wait til the storm notification comes, to buy your generator or get water there’s gonna be a run on it.

"There’s gonna be challenges in getting it those supplies.”

FOR THOSE WHO CHOOSE TO GO

Know your evacuation zone. In Virginia, for example, there are four of them: A, B, C and D.

Virginia officials have worked with cities to change the zones allowing for smoother evacuations.

“One of the challenges we had with evacuations was over-evacuations," Sutton said. "We know that the bridges and tunnels are going to be a challenge, so this really used a lot more science in identifying the evacuation zones, so the people that do have to go really do have to go. But not necessarily all the way to Roanoke. They can move into another evacuation zone," Sutton said.

Emergency management officials said they’ve learned a lot of lessons from previous storms and are already doing training exercises on how they can better respond this season.

“We practice. Everyone sits at their desk. Everyone works through hurricane scenario and talks about how they would respond. Public Works working through debris management, human services working through sheltering operations and just do we have everything in line,” Sutton said.

One of the big things she stresses is for people in hurricane-prone places to purchase flood insurance. Virginia Beach, for example, has drainage and infrastructure challenges, so it floods easier, she said.

During Hurricane Matthew, some homeowners in Virginia were taken aback because they’d never experienced major flooding to their neighborhoods.

Sutton said the conditions there are getting tougher.

“Rain intensity has increased, we’re looking at a lot more storms that are coming through. We had three storms back to back that added up to about 36 inches of rain and in any community 36 inches of rain is a lot," she said.

Hurricane season starts June 1.

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HURRICANE TERMS TO KNOW

Tropical Storm WATCH: An announcement that tropical storm conditions (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) are possible within the specified coastal area within 48 hours.

Tropical Storm WARNING: An announcement that tropical storm conditions (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) are expected within the specified coastal area within 36 hours.

Hurricane WATCH: An announcement that hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are possible somewhere within the specified coastal area. A hurricane watch is issued 48 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds.

Hurricane WARNING: An announcement that hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are expected somewhere within the specified coastal area. A hurricane warning is issued 36 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds.