(The Center Square) – With the Atlantic hurricane season one month in, weather experts are urging Maryland residents to be prepared.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted in its seasonal forecast that six major hurricanes will form out of an estimated 14 to 21 named storms.
Ed McDonough, public information officer for the Maryland Department of Emergency Management, said 2022 would be the seventh consecutive year in which the season has been above its historical average.
He preached the necessity of being prepared, saying it only takes one hit to cause damage.
“Depending on where you live in Maryland, there are two things to worry about, or two ways we want people to be prepared,” he told The Center Square.
For residents who live along the coastal or tidal areas, which include the Atlantic coast, Chesapeake Bay, and the lower Potomac River south of Washington, D.C., the threat is tidal flooding or storm surge. Residents in these areas should be wary of the phenomenon and know their evacuation zone, he said.
MDEM has a program to help called “Know Your Zone,” which can be accessed through knowyourzonemd.com. This allows residents to type in their address to learn what zone they live in.
“In all of those areas, we have Zones A, B, and C depending on how serious the flooding is,” he said. “The reason we do that is so that if local emergency officials want to have an evacuation, they can simply tell residents in that county or municipality that live in Zone A or Zone A and B or Zone A, B and C that they need to evacuate, so it simplifies the evacuation message.”
In addition to storm surge evacuations, residents should be prepared for tornadoes and flash flooding, McDonough said.
“We saw both of those last year in Maryland from the remnants of Hurricane Ida,” he said.
Hurricane Ida didn’t even make landfall near Maryland but rather on the Gulf Coast. It still managed to kill one young man who was caught in his basement when the area flooded, according to McDonough.
McDonough said it’s best to prepare early. Usually, there is a 30-day waiting period for flood insurance.
Waiting until the last minute to stock up on groceries and supplies is not advised.
“Everybody’s doing the same thing and the grocery store shelves are bare – those are some of the mistakes that people make,” he said.
Some items that should be included in their emergency kits include a three-day supply of food and water, a first aid kit, a battery-operated radio, a flashlight with extra batteries, a flare, a map of the area, toilet paper, and any necessary medications, according to MDEM’s website.
McDonough also advises people should have at least two means by which to receive emergency communications, including evacuations.
While hurricane season is the current focus, McDonough adds these precautions are applicable to other seasons and disaster situations residents may encounter.