Hurricanes are tropical cyclones that rotate counterclockwise with wind speeds in excess of 74 mph. Most hurricanes form over warm seas near the equator. They are created when the sun heats the ocean surface, causing heated water vapor to rise, condense, and form clouds. These clouds begin to spiral as the earth rotates. More air is pulled underneath and a large vortex is formed.
On average, six Atlantic hurricanes develop each year. When a hurricane moves toward coastal areas it often causes severe damage. Strong winds create storm surges, floods, rip tides and can even spawn tornadoes. As the hurricane moves forward, its right front quadrant is typically where the most devastation occurs.
Hurricane season begins June 1 and continues through Nov. 30. Be sure to practice hurricane preparedness and learn about hurricane safety and survival.
To assist in being prepared before, during, and after a storm, review the following links for helpful information.
- NC Department of Public Safety: Hurricane Guide (PDF)
- NC Department of Public Safety: Guia Sobre Hurricanes (PDF)
- From FEMA: How to Prepare for a Hurricane (PDF)
- Ready.gov: Hurricanes
- Do you live in a Flood Zone? (Select the “Flood Hazards” layer)
- Hurricane Preparation Checklist (PDF)
- NC Department of Public Safety: Know Your Zone – Evacuation Routes
Hurricane Preparedness Tips
List of Preparedness Tips
Hurricane Preparedness Tips
We would like to encourage you to start preparing for emergencies and help us #PrepareBrunsCo by reviewing the tips below.
During an emergency, stay tuned to reliable local media outlets (such as the National Weather Service) and Brunswick County on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Nextdoor for continuous updates. You can also subscribe to receive email updates from the County to stay updated on media releases and important announcements.
Know the Terms
Know the difference between a Hurricane Watch, a Hurricane Warning, and a Tropical Storm Warning. A Hurricane Watch indicates hurricane conditions (sustained winds greater than 74 mph) are possible. Watches are usually issued 48 hours before the beginning of tropical-storm-force-winds. A Hurricane Warning indicates hurricane conditions (sustained winds greater than 74 mph) are expected. Warnings are usually issued 36 hours before the beginning of tropical-storm-force-winds. A Tropical Storm Warning indicates tropical storm conditions (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) are possible within 36 hours.
Know Your Zone
Visit the NC Department of Public Safety’s ‘Know Your Zone’ webpage to view the areas most at risk of storm surges and flooding in Brunswick County. Local officials use the zones to determine which areas should be evacuated in case of an emergency.
Make A Plan
When planning where to evacuate, we recommend finding a place to stay in advance that is outside of typical affected areas and that is not in flood-prone areas, typically inland. Ready offers free resources to learn more about the disasters you may face and what to consider when planning for them.
Know Who To Call
Make a list of all important phone numbers you’ll need in an emergency. We encourage you to use phones sparingly and have portable chargers on hand in case of power outages. If you know a hurricane or emergency event is about to happen or is happening and you still have power, make sure that all communication devices are charged and ready to use. During the event of a hurricane, only make essential calls and keep them brief. If you are reporting an emergency to 911, making sure to speak clearly and calmly while identifying yourself, your location, and your emergency.
Gather Important Documents
Gather all your important documents and information in an easily accessible place in case of an emergency so that you can take it with you when evacuating. Important documents include, but are not limited to, copies of your driver’s license, passport, social security card, insurance policies, individual and pet vaccination records, medical records, blood type, prescriptions, and bank account information. Getting a portable and flood resistant safe is a secure and easy way to have your documents in one place and ready to go.
Check Your Insurance
Before an emergency strikes, review your insurance policies to ensure your property is covered for any flooding or natural disasters that could occur. Policies you may need include homeowner’s insurance, renter’s insurance, flood insurance, and windstorm & hail coverage.
Prepare Your Home
Prepare materials to secure your home, especially doors, garages, and windows, from damage that could be caused by wind and debris. Install storm shutters, accordion shutters, and/or impact glass. Remember, the garage door is the most vulnerable part of the home, so it must be able to withstand hurricane-force winds. Seal outside wall openings. Keep the trees on your property trimmed and have dead or leaning trees removed. You can also secure any loose items on your property and clean out your rain gutters and downspouts. If you’re a renter, work with your landlord now to prepare for a storm.
Learn/Practice Safety Skills
Make sure everyone in your household knows how to turn off the electricity, gas, and water in case of emergency.
Subscribe To Emergency Alerts
Residents and visitors can sign up for landline, cellular/text, email, and TDD/TTY device emergency alerts from Brunswick County’s emergency alert center.
Sign Up For The Special Needs Registry
Residents are strongly encouraged to sign up for the Brunswick County Special Needs Registry if they have additional needs in functional areas. These functional needs may include but are not limited to maintaining independence, communication, transportation, supervision, and medical care.
Access Local Resources
Contact your local fire department to find out if they may have programs that provide fire or carbon monoxide detectors. Check online for free or discounted CPR courses offered near you.
- Storm Categories
- Storm Names
- Storm Terminology
- Before a Hurricane
- During a Hurricane
- After a Hurricane
- Safety Reminders
- Pet Safety
- Storm Debris
- Flooded Vehicles
> 156 MPH
Advisory: Hurricane and storm information delivered to the public every six hours.
“Eye” of the Hurricane: The relatively calm area near the center of the storm where winds are light, and the sky often is partly cloudy. The calm area is deceptive because it is bordered by maximum-force winds and torrential rains; it can last from several minutes to more than an hour.
Gale Warning: An advisory that 39-54 mph sustained winds and strong wave action are expected.
Hurricane: A tropical storm with wind speeds of 74 miles per hour or more, and dangerously high water and waves.
Hurricane Warning: An advisory that a hurricane is expected to strike a specified area within 24 hours or less.
Hurricane Watch: An announcement of possible hurricane conditions for a particular area within 36 hours.
Intermediate Advisory: Hurricane and storm information updated every two to three hours, or as necessary.
Special Advisory: Hurricane and storm information delivered when there is a significant change in storm-related weather conditions or warnings.
Storm Surge: An abnormal rise in sea level produced by the strong winds and low pressure within a hurricane. The storm surge occurs in the right half of the storm as it makes landfall. The storm surge potentially could elevate sea level from 2 to 20 feet. (9 out of 10 hurricane-related deaths occur as a result of storm surge, rather than winds.)
Storm Warning: An advisory that 55-73 mph sustained winds and strong wave action are expected.
Tropical Depression: An area of low pressure, rotary circulation of clouds and winds up to 38 miles per hour.
Tropical Disturbance: A moving area of thunderstorms in the tropics.
Tropical Storm: Counterclockwise circulation of clouds and winds (develops over warm tropical waters) with wind speeds ranging from 39-73 miles per hour. At this stage, the storm is assigned a name.
Tropical Wave: A westward-moving, low-pressure trough in the deep easterly current that tends to organize low-level circulation. It sometimes travels thousands of miles with little change in shape, producing showers and thunderstorms along its path.
- Is your disaster supply kit ready?
- Gas up your vehicles.
- Have your evacuation plan ready (view routes here).
- Secure loose items outside of your home.
- Frequently check on the progress of the storm.
- Check batteries and stock up on canned food, first-aid supplies, drinking water and medication.
- Store valuables and papers in waterproof containers.
- Secure your boat.
- Inform loved ones as to where you will be during the storm.
- Ensure your weather radio is in working condition.
- Locate your local shelters.
Securing Your Property and Insurance
You can take low-cost mitigation measures to protect yourself and your home from losses from wind and/or flooding, including:
- Analyze your home’s structural weaknesses
- If you are building a new home, consider a hip roof with a pitch of 30 degrees or less
- Install storm shutters to protect windows
- Install braces to give additional support to garage doors
- Plant vegetation to serve as wind breaks
- Buy flood insurance (see below)
- Move valuables and appliances out of the basement
- Make sure that any flood-proofing efforts are in compliance with the minimum NFIP requirements, and with state and local building codes.
The North Carolina Department of Insurance offers tips for maximizing your personal safety and minimizing your property and financial losses, including:
- Homeowners should review their insurance policies with their agents.
- Flood Insurance can be obtained by qualifying property owners by contacting their local agent or through the National Flood Insurance Program (1-800-662-7048).
- The Beach Plan is a program designed for coastal property owners. It offers coverage for for fire, lightning, wind and hail. Obtain more information by calling 1-800-662-7048 or visit http://www.ncjua-nciua.org/.
- Residents living in rental properties should consider purchasing renter’s insurance to cover losses of personal property within the rental unit.
- If you evacuate, take a copy of your policy with you.
Additional tips for hurricane and storm preparation are also available at the Department of Insurance or by calling the Consumer Services Division of the Department of Insurance toll-free (in-state) at 1-800-546-5664.
Basic Emergency Supplies
The best time to assemble a 3-day disaster supply kit is well before the storm hits. Many of these are common household items. Store enough supplies for at least 3 days, and if possible, for 7 days.
- Easy to carry water-tight container(s) (for all of your items)
- Water – 1 gallon per person per day, along with a water purification kit or bleach
- First aid kit and first aid book
- Mosquito repellent and sunscreen
- Pre-cooked, non-perishable foods, like canned meats, granola bars, peanut butter, instant soup, cereals, dried fruit, powdered milk, etc.
- Portable camp stove or grill with extra propane
- Non-electric can opener and waterproof lighter
- Paper plates, cups, utensils, paper towels
- Aluminum foil, oven mits, trash bags
- Baby supplies: formula, bottle, pacifier, diapers, baby wipes, etc.
- Anti-bacterial hand wipes or gel
- Blanket or sleeping bag per person
- Battery operated alarm clock, radio and/or TV with extra batteries
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- Essential medications (and copies of the prescriptions)
- Bar soap, toilet articles
- Toilet paper, feminine hygiene supplies
- Cash and change
- Seasonal change of clothing, including sturdy shoes and work gloves
- Cleaning supplies, hand tools, duct tape, rope, etc.
- Documents, backup discs of important computer files, medical history info, photo IDs
- Camera, books, games, cards, etc.
- Food, water, leash and carrier for pets
When a Watch Is Issued
Monitor storm reports
Make arrangements for pets
Store non-perishable foods
Store fresh drinking water
Protect glass openings
Buy materials for emergency repairs
When a Warning Is Issued
Monitor storm reports
Leave mobile homes
Prepare for high winds
Relocate boats on trailers
Check boat mooring lines
Store valuables and paperwork
Prepare for floods and tornadoes
Double-check survival supplies
What to Do After a Hurricane
- Contact local officials to see if it is safe to return.
- Check with officials for a safe route to return.
- Make sure your residence is safe.
- Be cautious of downed power lines.
- Follow all instructions of local officials.
- Do not drink water until notified that it is safe.
- Be cautious of spoiled food.
- Take inventory of destroyed and damaged property.
- Contact your insurance company.
When a hurricane strikes, it often causes widespread power outages. Restoring power after a major outage is a big job that involves much more than simply throwing a switch or removing a tree from a line. Our goal is to restore power SAFELY to the greatest number of people in the shortest time possible.
Stay clear of trees that may have fallen on power lines.
Remember, a power outage may effect thousands of other customers, so please be patient as we work to restore your power safely and efficiently.
More info on power restoration can be found here.
Responsibility for the cleanup falls to numerous local, state and federal agencies. A local disaster coordinator/director or his representative will be on hand to help residents in this effort. But, in the meantime, help your neighbors. Recovery quickens with cooperation from all.
- Notify your insurance company
- Apply for relief with FEMA
- Protect property
- Remember, recovery is a team effort
For more information about hurricane preparedness, survival and relief, visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) website.
This material is provided as a public service. Its purpose is to increase hurricane awareness. The key to survival is advance preparation!
If You Evacuate
- Take your disaster supply kit
- Bring pillows and blankets
- Have a safe place to go
- Bring extra cash
- Enact your pet plan
- Bring important family documents in a waterproof container
- Secure your home
- Follow your county evacuation map
- Don’t drive on flooded roads
- Follow officials’ instructions
- Stay away from downed power lines
- After the threat, listen to local officials for the all-clear
If You Stay at Home
If you are not able to evacuate, it is best to stay at a shelter. In the event of a disaster, there are special shelters set up for those with special medical needs. If you do choose to stay at home, follow these tips:
- Cover all windows and doors with shutters or other shielding materials
- Have extra cash on hand
- Have a weather radio on hand for frequent updates
- Follow instructions of local officials
- Stay away from windows and doors
- Go to an interior room on the first floor
- Have a family communication plan
- Remain indoors even during the eye of the storm
Portable generators are a good source of alternative power if an outage occurs, but they should only be used in emergency situations. An improperly installed or operated generator can be deadly! Click here for more information on safely operating a generator.
Only domestic cats and dogs are permitted in public shelters. You are responsible for finding accommodations for other types of pets in the event of a hurricane.
Pets are only allowed in specific, designated public shelters for health and space reasons, and are housed in separate locations at those shelters.
In the event of a disaster, if you must evacuate, the most important thing you can do for your pets is to evacuate them too. Pets are not allowed at most hotels and motels in North Carolina, so emergency arrangements for them may require careful planning.
- Keep your pet’s vaccinations up to date. Pet shelters may require proof of vaccines.
- Keep your pet on a leash with proper identification.
- Have a properly-sized pet carrier for each animal, large enough for the animal to stand an turn around.
Animals brought to a pet shelter are required to have:
- Proper identification, including collar and rabies tag
- Proper identification on all belongings
- A carrier
- A leash
- An ample supply of food, water and food bowls
- Any necessary medications
- Specific care instructions
- Newspapers or trash bags for clean-up
If you must leave your pet behind, prepare an appropriate area for it. Put the pet in a carrier in an interior closet or bathroom with plenty of water, food, toys and blankets.
For more information about how to prepare your pets for disasters, visit ready.gov/pets or readync.gov/plan-and-prepare/pets-and-service-animals.
You know what to do when a dangerous storm hits, but what about afterwards? Cooperation and proper clean-up procedures can go a long way toward regaining our way of life.
Please be sure to separate your debris into the following categories:
- Yard Debris – including trees and brush
- Building Debris – including construction materials, carpet and furniture
- Bulky Metal Items – including appliances and bikes
- Household Garbage – including food and paper waste
- Household Hazardous Materials – paint, solvents, cleaners, fertilizers and insecticides should be separated with extreme care
And, as you clear debris from your yard and home, please be careful not to block:
- Fire hydrants
- Utility boxes
Do your part to help speed up the recovery process!
What to do if your car has flood damage
If floodwaters partially or fully submerge your car, it can mean extensive damage and costly repairs. Here’s what to do after the waters recede:
Don’t start your car! Starting a flooded car will cause more damage if there is water in the engine.
Survey potential damage. Note the depth of the floodwaters in relation to your car.
Act quickly. Submersion of a vehicle in salt water — which is more damaging than fresh water — makes the chances of corrosion much higher. Start drying out your vehicle as quickly as possible, and contact a towing service to get it back to higher ground. Oil, transmission fluid and lube may need draining before a tow.
File a claim. Your insurance company, along with a qualified mechanic, will uncover how extensive the problems caused by flood damage may be.
Check the interior of your car. If floodwaters were more than a few feet deep, water probably made it to the inside of your car. Check your floor mats, carpets, upholstery, and inner door panels as they all absorb water and could encourage the growth of mildew and mold. If the components have started to mold, you will most likely have to replace them.
Start cleaning. Use a wet/dry vacuum to collect standing water in your vehicle, cloth towels to absorb water that has soaked into the seats and carpet, and fans and dehumidifiers to accelerate the drying process. Deodorize your car with baking soda and a sponge before putting any of its components back inside.
Check the oil and other fluids. Check the oil dipstick for water droplets — this indicates that it’s likely there is water in your engine. Have your car towed to a mechanic who can remove the water from the engine.
Remove damaged cylinders. If water is in your engine, your cylinders may be broken or corroded.
Check electrical components. Try the headlights, power locks, turn signals, windows and seats, air conditioning, interior lights, stereo, brakes, power steering, coolant reservoirs, and clutch. Any part that seems to function differently than it did before the flood indicates potential electrical trouble. A mechanic might need to replace your electrical components.
Check the fuel tank and line. A siphon pump might be used to remove some fuel in order to see if water is present. If water is found in the fuel (which would naturally separate from the fuel), they will empty the fuel tank completely.
Once the extent of your vehicle’s flood damage is determined, your insurance company will weigh the costs to repair the vehicle against the cost of replacing it. If your car is totaled (considered a total loss) by the insurance company, be sure to review what that means with your insurance agent.