Tropical Storm Karen & What You Should Know

By Shaunda Rauch on October 03, 2013 from Emergency Services Blog via Connect-Bridgeport.com

It’s that time of year again … hurricane season.  A hurricane is a type of tropical cyclone or severe tropical storm that forms in the southern Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and in the eastern Pacific Ocean. A typical cyclone is accompanied by thunderstorms, and in the Northern Hemisphere, a counterclockwise circulation of winds near the earth’s surface.
 
All Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coastal areas are subject to hurricanes. Parts of the Southwest United States and the Pacific Coast also experience heavy rains and floods each year from hurricanes spawned off Mexico. The Atlantic hurricane season lasts from June to November, with the peak season from mid-August to late October. The Eastern Pacific hurricane season begins May 15 and ends November 30.
 
Hurricanes can cause catastrophic damage to coastlines and several hundred miles inland. Hurricane can produce winds exceeding 155 miles per hour as well as tornadoes and microbursts. Additionally, hurricanes can create storm surges along the coast and cause extensive damage from heavy rainfall. Floods and flying debris from the excessive winds are often the deadly and destructive results of these weather events. Slow moving hurricanes traveling into mountainous regions tend to produce especially heavy rain. Excessive rain can trigger landslides or mud slides. Flash flooding can occur due to intense rainfall.
 
Right now the NOAA National Weather Service National Hurricane Center is closely following Tropical Storm Karen.  Bridgeport is far enough inland that we won't see the full force of a tropical storm or hurricane, but we do have potential for high winds, long-term power outages and flooding with each developing weather pattern.  Last year many of our sister counties faced the power of Hurricane Sandy in the form of snow ... lots and lots of snow!!   It’s important that you stay informed of any potential severe weather events that may impact our area or locations you will be traveling through.  Follow NWS and local forecasting offices for the latest developments with this storm. 
 
As with all emergency public warning information that we share, we want to encourage our residents to be informed and to take steps to be prepared. Take a little bit of time NOW to get ready.  The following are things you can do to protect yourself, your family and your property before severe weather:
 
·         Build an Emergency Supply Kit, which includes items like non-perishable food, water, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra flashlights and batteries. You may want to prepare a portable kit and keep it in your car in case you are told to evacuate. This kit should also include a pair of goggles and disposable breathing masks for each member of the family.
 
·         Make a Family Emergency Plan. Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to know how you will contact one another, how you will get back together and what you will do in case of an emergency.
 
·         Continually monitor the media – Be aware of storm's which could impact your area.
 
·         Know how you will be warned in an emergency (NOAA Weather radios with a tone alert are a good option).
 
·         Know where to shelter (i.e.: basement, interior room/hall, bathroom, closet, etc.) if conditions warrant and where shelters in your area are located.
 
·         Ensure your home is ready – Elevate items in the basement which could be flooded. Bring in outdoors items such as children's toys, patio furniture, garbage cans, etc. which could be blown around and damaged. Remove dead or rotting trees and branches that could fall and cause injury or damage.
 
·         Know how to shut off utilities, including power, water and gas, to your home. Have proper tools (i.e.: wrench) ready and nearby.
 
·         Find out what types of events and kinds of damages are covered by your insurance policy. Keep insurance policies, important documents and other valuables in a safe and secure location.
 
·         Keep fire extinguishers on hand and make sure everyone knows how to use them.
 
Visit http://www.ready.gov/ for tips before, during and after a severe weather event.  A little bit of time now will keep you from panicking when a disaster happens.  
 
And as a special note for our Bridgeport families who live within an established flood prone area or are concerned about potential flooding: 
 
Hurricanes cause heavy rains that can cause extensive flood damage in coastal and inland areas. Everyone is at risk and should consider flood insurance protection. Flood insurance is the only way to financially protect your property or business from flood damage. To learn more about your flooding risk and how to protect yourself and your business, visit the Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration (NFIP) Web site,www.floodsmart.gov or call 1-800-427-2419.


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