Hermine jump starts hurricane season

What you need to know for the next storm

Chris Rodier —
Tropical Storm Hermine brings heavy rain to the Neuse River on Sept. 2 in Clayton N.C.

RALEIGH — Tropical Storm Hermine barreled through southeastern North Carolina over the weekend, dropping as much as eight inches of rain in some areas. State Emergency management officials said the storm’s quick path through the state minimized the damage, but it’s too early to tell whether the amount of water dropped in a short time damaged crops. Gov. Pat McCrory signed transportation waivers early Friday and lifted truck weight limits so farmers could quickly get crops out before they become oversaturated.Hermine kicked off hurricane season for North Carolina and its neighbors, putting the Department of Public Safety’s Emergency Management team on high alert. Swift water rescue boats from across the state and National Guard helicopters were on standby for any aquatic rescues.September is also the Department of Homeland Security’s National Preparedness Month, an annual focus on preparing for all types of emergencies.”This happens every year,” said Emergency Management communications director Julia Jarema said. “You can almost tell when the first day of school will be because the first hurricane systems appear.”This week the agency kept an eye on two storms, Tropical Depression 8 and Hermine. The former spun out into the Atlantic without incident, but Hermine made landfall in Florida early Friday as a hurricane before being downgraded back to a tropical storm later that day. McCrory instated a Level 3 emergency plan Friday in preparation for the storm’s path over the state’s coast, declaring a state of emergency in 59 counties.”We want this thing to move in and out as quick as possible with as little damage to trees, utilities, roads and people,” said McCrory in a press conference Friday morning at National Guard headquarters in Raleigh. We hope to be over-prepared and underwhelmed, but we are always anticipating the unexpected based on past experience.”This summer serves as the five-year anniversary of Hurricane Irene, which ravaged the Outer Banks, and the 20th anniversary of Hurricane Fran, which was still a Category 1 hurricane by the time it reached the Triangle and caused $5.2 million in overall damage. Looking back, Jarema wanted to make it clear that no part of North Carolina is exempt from the potential consequences of hurricane season.”It’s not just a coastal problem,” she said.As the eastern part of the state assesses damage and drains out from Hermine, there are a few tips for those in the projected path of a future storm. ReadyNC.org, a project of the department of Emergency Management, recommended establishing and maintaining both a preparedness kit and evacuation plan.”I kind of tell everybody the same thing,” Jarema said. “It only takes one storm. For the native North Carolinians, just because you weathered one storm before does not mean all storms are created equal.”There is also a phone app for Android and iPhone devices from ReadyNC, with features such as a list of what to put in an emergency kit, what to have planned, notifications of evacuation areas, and where shelters are located. It also offers real-time traffic updates, which may prove useful on a regular basis.For those less apt to use apps, here are suggestions from the governor’s office for the supplies every family should have in an emergency:• Be sure your emergency supply kits have enough bottled water and nonperishable food to sustain each family member for three to seven days. Include a weather radio, flashlight, extra batteries, toiletries, change of clothes, blankets or sleeping bag, rain gear and appropriate footwear. Also include copies of important documents, such as birth certificates and insurance policies.• Plan for your pets. Gather supplies for your pets and put them in an easily accessible container.• Prepare your home. Clean out gutters and clear property of debris that could damage buildings in strong winds. Supplies such as lumber and shutters should be purchased now, and window casings predrilled.• Determine if you are in a floodplain or flood-prone area.• Know evacuation routes for your area. Listen to local officials and evacuate as instructed.• Stay tuned to local news for the latest advisories from the National Weather Service and National Hurricane Center (NHC), as well as state and local emergency management officials.