FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 4, 2018
Virginia Prepares for 2018 Hurricane Season as Part of National Hurricane Exercise
~ Exercise Tests Local, State and Federal Agencies’ Ability to Work Together to Address Catastrophic Hurricane Scenario~
RICHMOND—The Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) along with 18 other state agencies and 39 localities are exercising Virginia’s hurricane plans and testing how well local, state and federal agencies work together to address hurricane damage as part of the 2018 National Level Exercise, the largest ever Virginia emergency preparedness exercise. The exercise, which also involves participants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Washington D.C. and several military branches, is based around a direct hit to the Hampton Roads/Chesapeake Bay Region from a fictional category 4 hurricane named Cora. Exercise play began May 1 and will last through May 11, with the majority of Virginia’s participation taking place May 7.
Participants will test activities related to pre-landfall preparedness and warning, emergency response, maintaining essential functions during a major disaster, and managing long-duration power outages and recovery efforts.
“Citizens should be prepared to see simulated emergency response, rescue and recovery efforts throughout the Commonwealth over the next several days,” said Brian Moran, Virginia’s Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security. “Don’t be alarmed if you see emergency response vehicles, aircraft and personnel moving about during the exercise period, including military aircraft and personnel. We will be testing a multitude of search and rescue, medical treatment, emergency management, police and fire, and air-based capacities as part of this exercise.”
“While Virginia’s government and emergency management agencies work to prepare for a major natural disaster such as fictional Hurricane Cora, individuals, businesses and community organizations should also take the opportunity before the beginning of 2018 Atlantic Hurricane season—which runs June 1-Nov. 30—to prepare themselves for potential damage,” said VDEM State Coordinator for Emergency Management Dr. Jeff Stern. “As we saw in 2017 when multiple hurricanes destroyed parts of Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the potential for widespread devastation is very real with each of these storms. Forecasters are already predicting a similarly active 2018 hurricane season, so the time to prepare is now.”
With 438 fatalities and more than $369.6 billion in damages worldwide attributed to 2017 hurricanes according to the National Hurricane Center, 2017 was a historic hurricane season.
Before 2018 hurricane season begins, Virginians should prepare by purchasing flood insurance, developing a family communication plan and making an emergency kit. These actions can save your home, save you money by reducing potential damage to your home or business, and can even save the lives of you and your loved ones.
HOW TO PREPARE
Take these steps to keep you and your family safe while protecting your home and property.
Purchase Flood Insurance Before a Storm Threatens
Just one inch of water in a home or office can cost thousands in cleanup costs, including replacing drywall, baseboards, floor coverings and furniture. Buying flood insurance is the best way to protect your home, your business and your family’s financial security from the costs associated with flood damage. But remember, flood insurance policies take 30 days to take effect, so act now for 2018 hurricane season.
Here are important things to remember:
- Contact the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) call center at (888) 379-9531 to request an agent referral or visit www.floodsmart.govor talk to your existing insurance agent to ask about flood insurance.
- There is a 30-day waiting period before a flood insurance policy takes effect.
- Most property insurance policies do not cover flood losses, so you will need to purchase separate flood insurance.
- Annual premiums for a policy start at $112 per year and increase according to the level of flood risk and the amount of coverage needed.
- Nearly 25 percent of all NFIP flood claims occur in areas with moderate to low flooding risk.
Prepare Your Home Before the Storm
- Bring loose, lightweight objects such as patio furniture, garbage cans and bicycles inside.
- Secure objects that would be unsafe to bring inside (e.g., gas grills and propane tanks).
- Trim or remove damaged trees and limbs close enough to fall on structures.
- Secure loose rain gutters and downspouts and clear any clogged areas of debris to prevent water damage to your property.
- Purchase a portable generator or install a whole-house generator for use during power outages.
- Take photos and document the condition of your home prior to a storm to aid in future insurance claims.
Prepare Your Business
- Document employee responsibilities and roles before and review with each employee.
- Conduct drills and test your emergency plans to ensure staff comprehend their roles. Follow-up with an after action report and lessons-learned session.
- Contact your vendors to understand their preparedness plans and how a disaster will impact your supply chain.
- Relocate valuables and IT systems to the upper level of your facility away from large windows and doors, or to a more secure location if needed.
- Ensure vital records are protected: analyze your off-site backup record storage, place valuable documentation and digital storage media in a waterproof, fireproof box.
- Purchase a flood insurance policy for your business.
Make an Emergency Kit
It can take several days or weeks for government services and assistance to reach you and your family, depending on the severity of the storm and your geographic location. An emergency kit is vital to sustain your family and to have the items you need if you must quickly evacuate.
Use this checklist to build your emergency supply kit. Add a few items each week or month to offset the cost. Many hurricane and emergency preparedness products are eligible for Virginia’s tax-free weekend held each August. The three-day sales tax holiday starts the first Friday in August at 12:01 a.m. and ends the following Sunday at 11:59 p.m. Regularly replace items that go bad over time such as water, food, medication and batteries, and remember your family’s unique needs as you build your kit.
Food and Supplies
- At least a three-day supply of water and non-perishable food
- Infant formula and diapers
- Pet food and supplies
- Medications for at least one week and copies of prescriptions
- Medical equipment, assistive technology and backup batteries
- First aid kit and antibiotic ointment
Tools and Safety Items
- Flashlight and batteries
- Multipurpose tool
Protective Gear and Clothing
- Warm clothing
- Sturdy shoes
- Blankets or sleeping bags
- Emergency funds should be able to sustain your family for several days at a minimum. Government resource and assistance takes time.
- Gather funds to cover fuel, lodging and meals as well as pet boarding costs if you’re asked to evacuate.
- Do not rely on credit cards or debit cards as critical networks such as Internet or electrical infrastructure may be damaged. Be sure to withdraw plenty of cash before the storm.
Collect and store your critical paperwork in a waterproof storage bag or container. Store a password-protected backup of your records on a virtual cloud service.
- Driver’s license and passports
- Vehicle registration and proof of insurance
- Medical and vaccination records
- Prescription medicine labels
- Birth certificates and social security cards
- Marriage certificates
- Proof of residence (deed or lease)
- Business and personal tax records
- Household inventory (photo or video)
Hygiene and Sanitation Supplies
- Maintaining good hygiene can stop the spread of bacteria and infectious disease.
- Antibacterial soap and disinfectant
- Paper towels, toilet paper and towelettes
- Bleach and rubbing alcohol
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Extra cellular phone charging devices and batteries
- An AM/FM radio
- A NOAA Weather Radio with additional batteries
- Write down phone numbers and email addresses for everyone in your household and other contacts including extended family, friends, neighbors or coworkers so you can connect if you don’t have your mobile device with you or if the battery runs down.
- You should write down, store or have convenient access to phone numbers for emergency services, utility and service providers, medical providers, veterinarians, insurance companies and other critical services.
For more information on how to prepare your business, family and property against hurricane threats, visit www.vaemergency.gov/hurricanes
Be ready. Be willing to help.
Virginia Disaster Relief Fund
How is the money distributed?
Fund proceeds will be distributed to local long-term recovery groups, members of the Virginia Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster and other non-profit and faith-based organizations as a grant.
Many of these groups work directly with individuals and families following a disaster.
How else can I donate?
The Virginia Disaster Relief Fund benefits projects that include: repair or rebuilding of underinsured dwellings, transportation assistance, replacing essential household items, helping renters establish new rental residence, temporary living expenses while recovering from loss, and more.
How can I donate?
If you want to help, send checks made payable to the Treasurer of Virginia with “Virginia Disaster Relief Fund” noted in the memo line to:
P.O. Box 1971
Richmond, VA 23218-1971