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How to stay prepared during hurricane season

Hurricane Fiona caused extensive damage to this region in Sept. 2022. — René J. Roy / © Wreckhouse Press Inc.

By Jaymie White Local Journalism Initiative Reporter SOUTHWEST COAST — If anyone understands the severity and damage a hurricane can cause, it’s residents on the Southwest coast who are still trying to pick up the pieces after Hurricane Fiona raged through in September of last year. The hurricane season for 2023 started on June 1, but doesn’t end until November 30, and there have already been four recorded hurricanes that have thus far bypassed Newfoundland and Labrador. On Thursday, Sept. 7, the Department of Justice and Public Safety urged the public to be prepared in advance of what is known as ‘peak’ hurricane season. With the peak of Atlantic Hurricane season just days away, the Honourable John Hogan, KC, Minister of Justice and Public Safety, is encouraging residents to know the risks and take action to be prepared for extreme weather events. “Climate change is increasing the frequency of extreme weather and weather-related events. The recent experiences of Hurricane Fiona and the wildfires in Central Newfoundland have shown a need to provide timely and accurate information to the public before and during potential life-threatening events.” The Department said each individual being prepared is essential in these types of significant weather events. “Personal preparedness is critical to the success when managing an emergency situation. In addition to visiting the ‘Be Prepared’ website for emergency best practices and alerts, the public and local governments are reminded to:

  1. Ensure roads, ditches and drains are clear of debris;

  2. Ensure appropriate provisions are made for the delivery of services;

  3. Check NL 511 via the mobile app, visit nl511.ca or call 511 to check driving condition reports;

  4. Prepare and update emergency plans; and

  5. Take steps to ensure personal safety during the weather event. “Families are encouraged to develop their own emergency plans in advance of anticipated adverse weather. Tips for preparing a plan, as well as items to include in an emergency kit, can be found in the backgrounder. “Disasters and emergencies affect everyone. People may experience barriers in emergency preparedness and emergency situations, which may include accessing devices that run electrical power, elevators, accessible transportation and accessible communications.” On the ‘Be Prepared’ page on the Government of NL website, definitions of weather events can be found as well as detailed lists of what individuals should do during different types of disasters. During Hurricane Season, consider the following: Flooding Flooding may result from an overflow from bodies of water, or from an accumulation of rain water and melting snow. To reduce the likelihood of a flood you should:

  6. Weather seal doors and windows

  7. Consider installing a sump pump

  8. Move important documents and belongings to higher ground

  9. Remove toilet bowls and plug basement sewer drains and toilet connections with a wooden stopper. Hurricane/Tropical Storm Hurricane season officially runs from June through November when the waters of the Atlantic Ocean are warm enough to produce a tropical cyclone, a category of weather systems that includes tropical depressions, tropical storms and hurricanes. These systems bring mild temperatures, high winds and often heavy rain. By taking these precautions you can help save lives and minimize property damage:

  10. Secure loose items around your house and clear drains and basins

  11. Trim branches and cut down dead trees

  12. Be prepared to move inland and go to higher ground

  13. Have an emergency kit available and be prepared for at least 72 hours, with food, water, batteries, a portable radio, and prescription medications.

  14. Stay up-to-date by monitoring forecast information and local news Storm Surge A storm surge is caused by wind and air pressure and creates high waves and pounding surf which could lead to coastal flooding. Storm surges can happen without much notice, so those living near the coastline should always:

  15. Repair vulnerable areas of their home in a timely fashion

  16. Consider having sandbags and installing a sump pump

  17. Keep important documents and expensive items above ground level

  18. Have an emergency kit and be ready to evacuate

  19. If an evacuation is necessary close windows and doors “Recent major storms and fires in Newfoundland and Labrador, and across the world, have shown the importance of preparing residents to deal with increasingly frequent weather-related emergencies. By being prepared and visiting our website for accurate information, we are equipping Newfoundlanders and Labradorians with the tools to stay safe and be prepared,” said John Hogan, Minister of Justice and Public Safety and Attorney General. The government also has resources to assists those with disabilities. “Information on emergency preparedness for persons with disabilities and their families can be found on the Coalition of Persons with Disabilities NL website and on the federal website for an Emergency Preparedness Guide for People with Disabilities. “To further enhance public safety during potential life-threatening events, residents will be able to access a new tool through http://www.gov.nl. ca. If a major emergency is deemed imminent, such as a major hurricane about to make landfall, a new emergency preparedness webpage will be activated. The webpage acts as a single source of information and is intended to improve communication with the public ahead of, during, and after an emergency. The webpage will be accessible from government’s homepage, is easy to use, mobile-friendly and will be deactivated once the threat has passed. “This new tool is another way the Provincial Government is preparing residents for increasingly common, extreme weather and weather-related events. “People are encouraged to share their knowledge about emergency preparedness and to help support each other. Be aware of neighbours who are elderly, people with disabilities, people with limited resources or persons who identify they need support for emergencies.”

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