FEMA Encourages Residents & Visitors in Hurricanes’ Paths to Prepare Now

WASHINGTON – As Hurricane Maria advances toward the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, and Hurricane Jose approaches the northeastern United States, residents and visitors in potentially affected areas should review their preparations. Always remember, listen to the instructions of state, tribal, territorial, commonwealth, and local officials.

As we continue response and recovery operations following Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, FEMA is preparing for response to the potential impacts of Hurricanes Jose and Maria. FEMA staff in headquarters and regional offices in New York, Boston, and the Caribbean Area Office, are closely monitoring the tracks of Hurricanes Maria and Jose, while pre-positioning assets and commodities to prepare for potential impacts from these storms. The U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico are under a Hurricane Watch and may receive impacts from Hurricane Maria by Tuesday.

According to the National Weather Service, Hurricane Jose is expected to produce life-threatening surf and rip currents and possible heavy rainfall along portions of the East Coast. Tropical Storm Watches and Warnings are being issued from Fenwick Island, Delaware north to Plymouth, Massachusetts, excluding New York City.

Now is the time to prepare for these hurricanes; FEMA recommends all residents and visitors in the paths of Hurricanes Jose and Maria to review these tips:

  • Check to make sure your emergency kit is stocked and test your family communications plan.
  • Know your evacuation routes and how to find higher ground. Determine where you would go, and how you would get there if instructed to evacuate. If directed to evacuate by local officials, evacuate.

Stay vigilant and continue to monitor local radio or TV stations, and local emergency management officials, for updated weather and emergency information.

  • The FEMA App (available in English and Spanish) provides National Weather Service alerts (for up to 5 areas), emergency kit checklists, directions to open shelters, safety preparation tips and more.
  • Make plans to secure your property:
    • Cover all of your home’s windows. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows. A second option is to board up windows with 5/8” marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install. Tape does not prevent windows from breaking.
    • Reinforce your garage doors; if wind enters a garage it can cause dangerous and expensive structural damage.
    • Plan to bring in all outdoor furniture, decorations, garbage cans, and anything else that is not tied down.
    • Determine how and where to secure boats and other marine craft.
  • You can safely install a generator for emergencies. Remember, never run a generator inside and keep it away from windows, doors, and vents.
  • If using candles, please use caution. If possible, use flashlights instead. If you must use candles, do not burn them on or near anything that can catch fire.
  • Your phone is an important tool to ensure your family’s safety. Make sure to charge your phone and other electronic devices.
  • Businesses of all sizes are encouraged to follow local public safety authority direction and to share safety messaging with employees in order to reduce risk.
  • If you have a National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) flood insurance policy, you may be eligible for reimbursement for actions taken to protect your property. Call your insurance agent to find out more.

Watches and Warnings

  • Get to know the terms that are used to identify severe weather and discuss with your family what to do if a watch or warning is issued.

    For a tropical storm:

    • Tropical Storm Watch is issued when tropical cyclone containing winds of at least 39 MPH or higher poses a possible threat, generally within 48 hours.
    • Tropical Storm Warning is issued when sustained winds of 39 MPH or higher associated with a tropical cyclone are expected in 36 hours or less.

For a hurricane:

  • Hurricane Watch is issued when a tropical cyclone containing winds of at least 74 MPH poses a possible threat, generally within 48 hours.
  • Hurricane Warning is issued when sustained winds of 74 MPH or higher associated with a tropical cyclone are expected in 36 hours or less. A hurricane warning can remain in effect when dangerously high water or a combination of dangerously high water and exceptionally high waves continue, even though winds may be less than hurricane force.

For coastal flooding:

  • Coastal Flood Watch is issued when moderate to major coastal flooding is possible.
  • Coastal Flood Warning is issued when moderate to major coastal flooding is occurring or imminent.
  • Coastal Flood Advisory is issued when minor or nuisance coastal flooding is occurring or imminent.

For more safety procedures and tips on what to do before, during, and after a hurricane, visit ready.gov/hurricanes or listo.gov/es/huracanes.


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