HURRICANE SEASON INFORMATION
The Atlantic Hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30 each year. Historically, fall is the most active part of hurricane season for our region. August and September are usually the busiest months for hurricanes along North Carolina’s coast. However, Tropical Storm Ana developed on May 23 this year. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting another above-normal Atlantic hurricane season. Our proximity to the Atlantic coast, combined with the low elevation above sea level for large parts of our town, makes River Bend vulnerable to impacts from hurricanes. A tropical system does not need to develop into a hurricane to cause damage in River Bend, particularly in the flood zone.
Because of these facts, if you live in River Bend, you should consider purchasing flood insurance. You can obtain a policy from a local agent, through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The Town of River Bend is a participant in the Community Rating System (CRS) of the NFIP. In short, that means that the town maintains records and files on flood zone properties, has and enforces a local flood damage prevention ordinance and meets other annual minimums to be a CRS town. Our CRS status means that River Bend residents who live in a special flood hazard area (SFHA) are eligible for a 10% discount on annual flood insurance policy premiums. Typically, regular home owner’s insurance policies do not cover damages from rising waters (flooding). If you are uncertain about your insurance coverage, you should contact your agent now. Do not wait until after the storm to learn that you are not covered. Most insurance companies require flood insurance to be purchased at least 30 days prior to a named storm that impacts a customer. That means that you cannot buy coverage at the last minute when a storm is already headed in our direction.
Hurricane Florence is still in the memory of River Bend residents. Our records indicate that 503 homes in River Bend were flooded during Hurricane Florence. According to data from the NFIP, just before Hurricane Florence made landfall on September 14, 2018, there were 443 flood insurance policies in effect in River Bend. That means there were at least 60 flooded homes that did not have flood insurance. Hurricane Florence made landfall on September 14, 2018. Today, almost three years after Hurricane Florence’s arrival, all of the homes in River Bend that were damaged by Hurricane Florence are not yet repaired.
Now, and throughout the summer, is a good time for you to assess your property and see if you are ready for a hurricane or even a smaller magnitude tropical storm. There are many things that you can do now to prepare so that you will be better prepared if a storm does impact us. A few suggestions are:
Check your trees and other vegetation. Remove any dead, damaged or leaning limbs that may fall on your home or other buildings. Don’t forget to look above where you park your car, too. A tree or limb can ruin a vehicle too and you may need that vehicle to leave the area. You do not want to be pruning or trying to hire a professional tree trimmer shortly before the storm. They will be in high demand then. Also, trimming shortly before a storm creates debris that must be removed prior to the storm.
Check your gutters, roof and siding (and flood vents if your home is equipped with them). Be sure they are in proper working condition and/or are properly secured. Do you have a tarp and enough rope to secure it if your roof is compromised during a storm? Tarps are hard to find near a storms arrival. Also check your windows and doors to make sure they are prepared to keep out the elements.
Check the drainage features on your property. Be sure they are clear and working properly.
If you own a generator (or chainsaw), give it a tune up now. Exercise your generator. A generator has two main components. They are the motor and the generator. Cranking the motor and letting it run will exercise the motor part. Be sure to plug something into it and make sure the generator part is also working. It is called testing under load. Simply plugging up a couple of lamps or fans will do. It would be unfortunate to own a perfectly running generator engine that does not produce electricity. Often times following hurricanes or other natural disasters more people die from improper use of generators than die due to the actual storm event. If you own a generator, make sure that you and your family know how, when and where to operate it. Make sure that you have adequate fuel storage tanks. When a storm is approaching, they are difficult to find in stores. Batteries and flashlights may be hard to find, too. Test your supply and stock up now. Consider buying a spare chain for your chainsaw.
Landscape items such as swings, trash cans, lawn furniture and anything else that is in your yard can become wind-driven projectiles during a storm. Imagine a trash can lid striking the window of your home or vehicle at 75 mph. Also, loose items like basketballs or flower pots can float away and completely block storm drains, which can contribute to flooding. Now is the time to formulate a plan for how you will address these issues when a storm is approaching. I recommend having a place to store the items inside or being able to tie them down during a storm. You may need to buy a supply of rope or cords now.
Subscribe to the town’s e-news and blackboard connect service. This can easily be done by clicking on the “Register for Alerts” button near the top of our home page. Immediately before and after a storm event, we will be using these services to share official updates and guidance. Please do not rely on information that you may find on social media as your source for official information.
Obviously, we hope that you will never find yourself in a hurricane in River Bend. However, hurricanes and other tropical storm events are a natural event in eastern North Carolina. If you live here, the wise thing to do is to be prepared for them.