Hampton Roads, like other communities, is subject to the effects of major emergencies and disasters derived from natural, man-made or technological causes. One of the most
serious natural disasters would be caused by a hurricane. It is possible for a hurricane to strike Hampton Roads, threatening lives and property. The impact would be extremely serious upon local jurisdictions and the region. Community awareness and preparedness must be taken seriously to insure that everyone understands what to do before, during and after a hurricane. The time to prepare is now. Do not wait until a crisis occurs to develop your family plan for survival.
Hampton Roads communities and residents must be prepared to respond to the threat of major emergencies and disasters. Individuals and families have a great deal of the responsibility in preparing for the response. How well you are prepared to respond, deal with the disaster conditions and recover from the consequences depends upon your awareness, knowledge and planning efforts. The situation is survivable. You can reduce the impact upon your family. The first step is to be aware of the hazards and risks. The next step is to become knowledgeable about what to do BEFORE, DURING and AFTER a hurricane or other disaster strikes. Finally, you need to develop your own DISASTER RESPONSE & RECOVERY PLAN.
Before an emergency threatens, you should protect yourself and your family by planning ahead. Disaster preparedness is a team effort between the public and private sectors to save lives, reduce injuries and suffering and save property. Be aware and knowledgeable about the risks. Learn what to do before, during and after a major emergency or disaster. Based
upon where you live, you may need to make important decisions in advance about how your family will handle an emergency situation. Develop a checklist that will help you create a disaster plan based upon your family's needs. Establish and maintain a Family Disaster Supply Kit.
From June 1st to November 30th, the tropical Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean warm up enough to spawn one of nature's most destructive storms. Hurricanes in the past have killed thousands and left entire cities in ruin. Hurricanes usually form over water that is at least 80 degrees Fahrenheit. They are giant heat engines that convert the heat energy of the tropics into wind and waves.
Even though meteorologists have made improvements in the forecasting and tracking of severe weather, especially hurricanes, there is no way to predict far enough in advance exactly how a storm will affect coastal Virginia, or when it will hit. This unpredictability makes "being alert" a vital factor in protecting your home, possessions and family.
Your official source for hurricane information is the National Weather Service. The National Weather Service provides hurricane coordinates that indicate the location of the center of the storm's eye. The average storm is 250 miles in diameter; thus the danger zone can extend beyond 100 miles of the eye in all directions. If a storm hit our area, maximum conditions would exist if the storm eye crossed over us. Keep in mind that there will always be a margin of error, since hurricanes and Mother Nature are dynamic and constantly changing. Radio and television stations can keep you up-to-date on hurricane conditions.
The National Hurricane Center classifies hurricanes according to their potential for producing extensive damages on a scale of 1 to 5. Herbert Saffir, a consulting engineer specializing in wind damage to buildings, and Robert Simpson, previous Director of the National Hurricane Center in the 1970s, invented the rating scale. The following table is a breakdown of the average wind, pressure and storm surge values for each of the five hurricane categories. The average atmospheric pressure is given in inches of mercury. The average sea-level atmospheric pressure is 29.92 inches of mercury. Wind speed is given in miles per hour (MPH). Generally speaking, Category 3 hurricanes and higher are categorized as major. Damages will increase exponentially as the category number is raised. (Refer to the table below.)
"Storm Surge" is a large dome of water pushed up in advance of a hurricane making landfall. This dome of water can exceed 20 feet depending upon the strength of the hurricane and tide conditions. Storm surge flooding has caused more deaths than hurricane winds. Storm surge is not to be confused with a tidal wave or tsunami. It is a large amount of water on top of which there is heavy wave action. A storm surge can last for several hours. In a deep ocean, this huge dome of water sinks and flows away. As the storm nears land, the rising sea floor blocks the building water's escape. It comes ashore as a deadly storm surge. During high tide, the storm surge will be even deeper and more extensive. Contact your local Emergency Management Agency for more information as to the risks to your family or property from storm surge.
Flooding may result from both heavy sustained rainfall or storm surge inundation. As the hurricane moves inland, it will be accompanied by a large amount of rainfall over a short period of time. This adds to the previous storm surge flooding and collects outside the normal boundaries of rivers, streams, lakes and canals. Depending upon a storm surge's wave size and ground elevation, water may become trapped. This creates additional associated hazards, such as drowning, electrocution from fallen power lines, health risks associated with drinking contaminated water and property damage or loss.
If you live near the coast, plan to relocate during a hurricane emergency. If you live in a mobile home, always plan to relocate. Don't forget that public utilities may fail if a hurricane strikes. Utilities include cable television, electric, natural gas, sewer, storm water, telephone and water. It may take days or weeks before they can be restored. This may make survivability extremely difficult. How would your family survive with one or more of the above utilities no longer available for days or weeks? Your home may be safe, but you could be affected by the loss of one or more public utilities by being close to the disaster stricken area. Contact your local Emergency Management Office for assistance in evaluating the vulnerability of your home as to the flood risks.
A complete inventory of personal property will help in obtaining insurance settlements and/or tax deductions for uninsured losses. Inventory checklists can be obtained from your insurance representative. Don't trust your memory! Emotional stress upon your family will already be traumatic after a disaster. Document personal property by listing descriptions, taking pictures or video of household belongings. Store important documents in waterproof containers or a safety deposit box.
Review your insurance policies and coverage to avoid costly misunderstandings. In addition to your homeowner's insurance, do you have flood insurance? If you are within a flood plain and/or storm surge area, flood insurance must be purchased under a separate policy. Don't forget that storm surge maps are different from flood insurance rate maps. Separate insurance policies are needed for protection against wind and flood damage. Most people don't realize this, until it is too late. If you live in an apartment or condominium, do you have adequate renter's content insurance to cover your furniture and personal property? Don't wait until the last minute to get coverage. It will not be available to you in sufficient time.
Do you have an out-of-state friend or relative who can be your "family contact," in case your family members are separated? After a disaster, it is often easier to call long distance. Family members should call this person and advise them of their location and status. Everyone must know the telephone number of your designated family contact.
Don't forget to make special arrangements and plans for a place that will safely house, feed and care for your pets. If you evacuate, are the pets going with you? Don't forget to include food and water in your Family Disaster Supplies Kit. You will not be allowed to bring your pets to public shelters. Make arrangements with your veterinarian, humane society or private pet shelter outside the normal hurricane impact areas.
Families can cope with a disaster by preparing and working together as a team. Create a family disaster plan. Planning what to do is your best protection and your responsibility. Involve all family members in the planning process, so that they know what to expect, as well as what to do when a Hurricane Watch or Warning is issued. When will you evacuate or go to a shelter? Routinely practice and update your plan.
Keep these supplies at home throughout the year in preparation for major emergencies or disasters. We recommend that you keep them in a separate "Family Disaster Supplies Kit" so they are easy to find when you need them. Identify a safe room for storage of the supply kit and where you can go if a hurricane hits. Don't forget to rotate and replace expired items throughout the year.
Family members should discuss and plan additional supplies that might be needed over an extended period of time. Be ready for the hurricane season. Some supplies will be required in the event you elect to stay in your home. Others may be required if you evacuate or relocate or go to a shelter. Plan supplies so they are clearly accessible and identifiable. After a hurricane watch is issued, there may be a high demand and short supply of many items.
The disabled community and individuals under medical care, like the rest of the community, are at risk during an emergency. Because of their disability or medical conditions, individuals in these situations must take additional precautions and pay special attention to emergency planning and how their disability and condition may affect them in a disaster.
A Hurricane Watch is issued by the National Hurricane Center to ALERT specific regions or states that hurricane conditions pose a threat to a specified area within 36 hours. Monitor storm reports on radio and television closely. Implement your family plan. If evacuation has not already been recommended, consider leaving the area early to avoid long hours along congested and limited evacuation routes.
Your radio will be your most useful information source. This includes both your AM/FM and Weather Alert Radios. Have enough batteries to last several days. Electricity may not be available for days or weeks, if you choose to stay. Don't wait until the last minute to buy fresh spare batteries. There will be a high demand and short supply of vital supplies shortly after a hurricane watch is issued.
Store matches in a waterproof container. Have lantern fuel in a safe container and location adequate to last for several days, if you plan to stay. We do not recommend candles. Keep fire safety in mind. If you had a fire, emergency response could be difficult or impossible!
Never let your vehicle's gas tank be less than half-full during hurricane season. Fill up as soon as a hurricane watch is issued. Adequate fuel will be needed in the event of an evacuation. Remember, when electrical power fails, gas pumps will not work!
Store packaged foods that can be prepared without cooking and need no refrigeration. Don't forget a manual can opener!
Have clean, air-tight containers to store sufficient drinking water for several days. The local water supply will probably be interrupted or contaminated.
Have shutters or lumber ready to protect large windows and
doors. Be sure to include the necessary hardware and tools to
securely cover windows and doors.
A Hurricane Warning is issued by the National Hurricane Center where sustained winds of 74 mph (64 knots) or higher are expected within a specified area within 24 hours or less. All precautions must be completed immediately.
Check tie-downs, turn off utilities and leave immediately for a safer place. Mobile homes are unsafe in hurricanes, tornadoes or severe thunderstorms. Can you imagine what hurricane-force winds would do to your mobile home?
Brace your garage door. Lower antennas. Be prepared to make repairs. Awnings, garbage cans, grills, lawn furniture, loose garden tools, toys and all other loose objects can be deadly missiles. Anchor securely or bring indoors. Securely board up or shutter large windows. Draw drapes across windows and doors to protect against flying glass.
Fill boats with water to weigh them down. Lash securely to trailer and use tie-downs to anchor trailer to the ground or house. Check mooring lines of boats that must remain in water, then leave them. Accomplish this ahead of the hurricane watch to save time. (See information concerning Safe Boating Precautions)
Put important documents (birth certificates, heirlooms, personal inventory lists, pictures, titles, wills, etc.) in waterproof containers and store them in the highest possible location protected from potential flooding. If you evacuate, be sure to take them with you. You should have secured most of your valuables and important papers in a safety deposit box, during the family planning process.
Storm surges, tornadoes and floods are killers associated with a hurricane. In a Tornado Warning, seek inside shelter below ground level if possible. Otherwise, go to the inner-most small room away from outside walls, doors and windows on the lowest level of your structure. If you are outside, seek cover in ditch or other low spot. Do not attempt to outrun a tornado!
Mobile homes and portable buildings are extremely unsafe, during a tornado! The surge of the ocean water plus flash flooding of streams and rivers due to torrential rains cause 90% of the deaths associated with hurricanes. If you anticipate that your family will be at risk, evacuate early before the hurricane watch is issued! Complete evacuation well before the arrival of tropical force winds.
Know where you are going and leave early (preferably at the beginning of the watch period), leaving sufficient time to avoid heavy evacuation traffic. Evacuate in daylight with a full tank of gas. Take only the most valuable possessions with you; otherwise place them in high points away from flooding within your home. Listen to your car radio for additional emergency information or evacuation routing problems.
Turn off gas, water and electricity. Check to see that you have done everything you can to protect your property from damage or loss.
You should have preplanned what to take within your vehicle (blankets, bottled water, canned or dried provisions, eating utensils, extra family medications, first aid kit, games, hearing aid, manual can opener, prescriptions, sleeping bags, spare batteries, spare glasses and other essential survival items). Take additional changes of clothing and foul weather gear.
You should have preplanned to keep in your possession your driver's license, personal identification papers, insurance policies, personal property inventory, medic-alert or device with special medical information, maps to destination, heirlooms, valuable pictures and essential paperwork that may be vital during and after your evacuation. Take cash, since ATM or credit card machines may not be working.
Take blankets, sleeping bags, flashlights, special dietary foods, infant needs, games, lightweight folding chairs, and water. Register every person arriving with you at the shelter. Do not take pets, alcoholic beverages or weapons of any kind to the shelter. Be prepared to offer assistance to shelter workers if necessary, and advise all family members of their obligations to keep the shelter clean and orderly.
If You Must Leave VDOT has developed a traffic control plan that is designed to maximize roadway capacities during a mass evacuation. During emergency situations, residents need to listen to radio or television stations for specific information from local emergency management officials. Situations will be constantly changing through the evacuation period. Leave as early as possible and use routes specified for your area.
The following traffic control plan was designed and published by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT). Because of the large population, and the limited capacities and number of highways leading out of Hampton Roads, it is necessary to have a phased evacuation with assigned routes (see map below, Phase 1 map and Phase 2 map).
Northern Neck: Individuals residing in the Mathews, Gloucester and Middlesex counties will evacuate along Route 17 north.
Middle Peninsula: Individuals residing in Northumberland, Westmoreland, Lancaster and Richmond counties will evacuate along Routes 202 and 203 to Route 3 north toward Fredericksburg.
Eastern Shore: Residents of Northampton and Accomack counties will use Route 13 north as the evacuation route. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel is not an evacuation route!
Phase 1 evacuation may involve the Cities of Hampton, Poquoson, Virginia Beach and Norfolk and York County. It is expected that evacuation notices will be issued for certain areas of Hampton, Poquoson, Virginia Beach and York County prior to other localities.
Virginia Beach: Individuals residing south of Route 44 (now called I-264) and along the ocean front will use I-64 toward Suffolk. Individuals residing north of Route 44 (now called I-264) will use I-64 West toward Richmond.
Norfolk: Individuals residing east of I-64 (outside of interstate loop) will use I-64 west toward Richmond. Individuals residing west of I-64 (inside the inter-state loop) will use I-64 toward Suffolk.
Hampton: Individuals residing in the area of King Street and north of Pembroke Avenue will use I-64 toward Richmond. Individuals residing east of King Street and south of Pembroke Avenue (including Fort Monroe) will use Mercury Boulevard to the James River Bridge to Route 258/32 in Isle of Wight County or Route 60 west. Individuals residing north of Mercury Boulevard between King Street and Armistead Avenue (in the vicinity of Langley Air Force Base) will take Armistead Avenue to Magruder Boulevard and use Route 17 north toward Gloucester County. Langley AFB will be evacuated out of the west gate toward Magruder Boulevard - South to I-64 east to Mercury Boulevard to the James River Bridge. Individuals will follow that route to their evacuation assembly area at Fort Pickett Army Barracks.
Poquoson and York County: All residents will use Route 17 north toward Gloucester County. Residents also may use Victory Boulevard to I-64 west toward Richmond.
Phase 2 evacuation may involve the City of Newport News, the remainder of Hampton, and the Cities of Chesapeake, Portsmouth and Suffolk. It is expected that evacuation notices will be issued for only certain areas within the above jurisdictions depending upon the situation.
Portsmouth: Individuals residing north of I-264 will use route 17 north to Route 258/32 south in Isle of Wight County; Route 337 west and I-664 north to Route 17 north, then to Route 10 west toward Smithfield. Individuals residing south of I-264 will use Airline Boulevard to Route 58/460 west toward Suffolk.
Chesapeake: Residents will use I-64, I-264, I-464 or I-664 to Route 58/460 toward Suffolk.
Suffolk: Residents north of Route 125 will use Route 17 north, to Route 258/32 to Route 10 west toward Smithfield.
Newport News: Residents will use Route 143 West (Jefferson Avenue) or Route 60 West (Warwick Boulevard) through Williamsburg via Route 162, Route 143, Route 132 then to Route 60 towards Richmond.
Hampton: Individuals residing west of King Street and south of Mercury Boulevard will use I-64 west toward Richmond. Individuals residing west of Armistead Avenue and north of Mercury Boulevard will use Route 17 north toward Gloucester County.
Stay indoors within an inner room on the lowest level away from doors and windows. Do not go out in the brief calm during passage of the hurricane's eye. The lull sometimes ends suddenly and winds return from the opposite direction. Winds can increase in seconds to 75 mph or more.
Your ability to cope with emergencies will help other members of your family. Stay calm, reassuring and use common sense. Use the telephone or cellular phones only in the event of an emergency or life-threatening situation.
Without taking any unnecessary risks, protect your property from damage. Temporary repairs may reduce further losses from wind and water. Move furniture away from exposed doors and windows.
Keep radio or television tuned to receive information from official sources. Unexpected changes can sometimes call for last minute relocations.
If you evacuated, delay return until authorized or recommended by local authorities. Telephone services within the evacuation zone may be overloaded or non-existent for an extended period of time. Listen to radio or television for information concerning returning to your home. Keep in mind that local emergency authorities will be addressing life and safety concerns on a priority basis, as well as trying to clear debris from roadways. There most likely will be electrical power lines down, extensive flooding of roads and other situations that may not allow safe immediate return to your home. It takes time for governmental, emergency and public utility authorities to clear the way for your safe return.
Watch out for loose or dangling power lines. Many lives are lost by electrocution! Treat all downed lines as live wires and do not touch them. Report the fallen power lines to your local power company or police. Stay inside your car if a wire is touching it, and wait for help to arrive.
Debris-filled streets are dangerous. Use hard-soled shoes. Poisonous snakes and rodents may be a hazard. Washouts may weaken road and bridge structures that may collapse under vehicle weight.
If you and others have lost power, call Virginia Power using the emergency or "Lights Out" number found in the white pages of your phone book (1-888-667-3000). Give your name, address and the general area of the outage. If the line is busy, try again later. A busy signal means others are also reporting outages. Disconnect or turn off any major appliance like stoves, televisions, air conditioners and water heaters that could come on suddenly when power is restored. This will help prevent blowing fuses, tripping circuit breakers and fires. Leave a light on so you will know when power is restored. Use a battery-powered radio to obtain up-to-date information on the outage. Consult a professional electrician or your local power company regarding the proper and safe use of generators before the disaster strikes.
Make only emergency telephone calls. Keep all calls brief. Report emergencies to 911. Identify yourself and your location. Speak clearly and calmly. Be respectful of the fact that emergency agencies and others involved with life or death emergencies will need to use these communication systems. When using a cellular phone, call the local non-emergency number listed in the telephone directory. Telephone and cellular phone services will either fail or become overloaded during a major emergency or disaster. Be prepared not to have services available. Cordless phones depend upon electricity; make sure you have at least one non- cordless phone to use if phone lines are working during a power outage.
Food may spoil if refrigerator power is off for more than a few hours. Freezers will keep food for several days, if doors are not opened after power failure. Do not refreeze food once it begins to thaw.
Use your emergency supply or boil water before drinking until officials advise that the water is safe. Check with your local health department or emergency management agency regarding water
purification procedures. Report broken water or sewer mains to proper authorities.
Avoid using candles as a light source. Unsafe use of candles can cause tragic fires. Instead use flashlights or lanterns. Fire safety practices are essential to prevent deaths, injuries or more property losses. Keep in mind that you may not have a telephone to call the emergency services if a fire does start.
Insurance representatives will be on the scene soon after a major disaster to speed up the handling of claims. Notify your insurance agent concerning any losses. Leave word where you can be
contacted. Be patient. Insurance representatives will settle hardship cases first. Don't assume your settlement will be the same as your neighbor's. Policy forms differ and storm damage is often erratic.
Make temporary repairs to protect property from further damage or looting. Use only reputable contractors (sometimes in the chaotic days following a disaster, unscrupulous operators will prey on the unsuspecting); check with the Better Business Bureau. Keep all receipts for materials used. If you observe looting or unscrupulous activities, advise law enforcement.
Responsibility for the clean up of public areas falls to numerous local, state and federal agencies. A local disaster coordinator or representative will be on hand to help residents. Bringing the community eventually back to normal is a TEAM effort between the private and public sector. Sometimes, it takes years for communities to totally recover from a major disaster. Your preparedness planning and cooperation will help the recovery process. If you and your family are okay, some extra volunteer time can go a long way to aid others.
The course of growing up for the average child consists of certain regularities. For most school-age children regularity involves the presence of parents, awakening in the morning, preparing for school, meeting with the same teacher, the same children, playing with friends, sleeping in the same bed, essentially being able to depend on a series of predictable events. The child expects dependability from adults and certainly from the forces of nature. For the pre-school child, life is much the same. He or she spends the day within a familiar world at home, with a babysitter or at the nursery school. The family environment remains more or less constant. When there is an interruption in this natural flow of life, the child experiences anxiety and fear. How adults help the child to resolve these problem times may have a lasting effect on the child.
Encourage the child to talk and express her or his feelings.
Explain to the child known facts that can be understood.
Listen to what the child tells you about fears. Listen when your child tells you about personal feelings and his or her interpretation of what has happened.
Once things settle down, try to get routines back to normal as quickly as possible. Don't be surprised if your child is afraid to go to bed, fall asleep or has nightmares.
Be understanding of the fears and flexible to somewhat adjust to the child's needs. School counselors, teachers and other professional help may be needed if situations do not return to normal within a reasonable period of time. Don't wait too long, if problems persist. Seek professional help.
A child needs reassurance by the parents' words and actions: "We are all together and nothing has happened to us." "You don't have to worry, we will look after you."
While trained officials and volunteers organize to oversee such things as evacuations and storm preparations, the responsibility for keeping in touch with changes during the threat is the public's. By being aware and staying tuned to local radio and television broadcasts, the public is able to find out what to do, when to do it and where to go. In addition, 24-hour a day storm information can be received from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radio. Weather alert radios that are AC/DC battery powered are available at local electric appliance stores. These devices will automatically alert you to special weather advisories, watches and warnings.
Flooding can begin well before a hurricane hits land. Plan to evacuate early and keep a full tank of gas, during the hurricane season. Learn the best evacuation route before storms form. Make arrangements with friends or relatives inland to stay with them until the storm has passed. Never attempt to drive during a hurricane. Wait until the all clear is given after the storm. Flash flooding can occur after a hurricane has passed. Avoid driving on coastal and low-lying roads. Storm surge and hurricane related flooding are erratic and occur with little or no warning.
Never attempt to drive through floodwater on a road. Water can be deeper than it appears and can rise very quickly. A car can be buoyed by floodwaters and then swept downstream during a flood. Floodwaters also can erode roadways. A missing section of road or bridge will not be visible underneath floodwaters. Wade through floodwaters only if the water is not flowing rapidly and only in water no higher than the knees. If your car stalls in floodwaters, get out quickly and move to higher ground. The floodwaters may still be rising and cars can be swept away at a moment's notice.
Damage from a direct hit can mean polluted water, limited communications, no electricity, storm sewers overflowing, structures undermined, severe erosion to shorelines, debris-clogged roads and more.
Breakers coming ashore in a hurricane travel at about one-half the speed of winds in the storm. Relating this to pressure created by the breakers means an impact of 10,000 pounds of Pressure per square inch.
This brochure is intended to help you prepare for a major emergency or disaster. Many of the guidelines presented are applicable to other situations. Are you ready?
Last Update: 01 June 2016