Hurricane Irma made landfall on the small island of Barbuda as a Category 5 hurricane Wednesday as it heads toward the U.S. Virgin Islands and Florida. Irma and Tropical Storm Jose are now a pending threat to Hilton Head Island and the Lowcountry.
Irma is a Category 5 hurricane with winds up to 185 mph. The storm is the most powerful ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. It’s so strong it is even showing up on scales for measuring earthquakes!
“No way to sugarcoat it. Irma is the type of tropical cyclone that wipes everything, including all vegetation, clean from small islands,” wrote Anthony Sagliani, the Meteorological Operations Manager at weather data firm Earth Networks.
Unfortunately, all we can do is prepare and be ready for the after math and evacuate. Please take the necessary precautions and keep your family safe:
1. For a big storm like Irma, you need enough water to drink for 7 days. The water does NOT have to be bottled. You can simply buy water containers and fill them with tap water.
2. Get a plastic sheet to line the tub. Then you can fill your tub with water without it leaking out. You’ll use this to flush the toilet and… for basic cleaning if the water goes out.
3. Have enough food on hand to eat for 7 days – food bars and other packaged food is good.
4. Buy a large number of Ziploc-like plastic bags – large and small. You’ll use them to protect papers and other valuables AND you’ll fill them 3/4 full of water and stuff the freezer full. Do that by midweek to be sure they are frozen when/if the power goes out over the weekend. It will keep the refrigerator colder. Do NOT set your fridge on the lowest setting.
5. Get a portable radio that receives AM and FM. NOAA radio is good, but doesn’t get you information on evacuations and other instructions. Get batteries.
6. Get LED flashlights and/or lanterns. They run forever on fewer batteries. But you still need plenty of extra batteries.
7. Get large plastic bags. They are invaluable for keeping valuable things dry if you have a leak.
8. Get large plastic boxes. If you put your valuables, photos, and papers in plastic bags inside the boxes, they will likely be okay.
9. Get plastic sheeting and plenty of duct tape.
10. Do your laundry this week!
Prepping is in full effect here on Hilton Head Island and the best thing you can do is have what you need on hand, ready to go today. I would also advise to have at least 10 gallons of gas and propane if needed for cooking/grill etc.
Also take ONLY what you need- family photos, heirlooms, all pets, etc. Computers, furniture, and clothes can always be replaced!
It is impossible to know how bad the hit will be, but all of the evidence points to a significant threat. TODAY is the day to begin the preparation process.
For more information, click here for a full Hurricane Guide