With the start of another hurricane season underway, area officials are helping area residents prepare for the next storm.
The Atlantic hurricane season started June 1, and a Hurricane Preparedness Fair is planned for June 7 to provide a variety of information on steps to get families and homes ready now versus later should a storm develop.
“It’s better to take a proactive approach rather than a reactive one,” said JoJo Cariaso, adult programs supervisor for Jacksonville Recreation & Parks.
The recreation department is coordinating with Onslow County Red Cross and Jacksonville Fire and Rescue, Onslow County Red Cross to offer the free event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Senior Community Building at Jacksonville Commons.
Cariaso said there haven’t been a lot of tropical storms to hit the area recently and in a transient military community there may be residents new to the coast or unfamiliar with the practices such as where shelters are traditionally located and what evacuation routes are for the area.
For others, it will be a good time to review their plans.
“We’ve been fortunate not to have a direct hit from a hurricane here recently. We need to familiarize our community again about what they need to do the prepare pre hurricane and after,” Cariaso said.
The Red Cross will have a mock shelter in one of the rooms so people who have never used one can see what to expect if they have to go to one.
Other partners will be on hand such as Onslow County Emergency Services and Duke Energy.
Get information on what is needed to stock an emergency preparedness kit, what to do in the case of an evacuation, what important documents to protect and more.
The season outlook issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts a near-normal or below normal Atlantic hurricane season.
According to the forecast there is a 70 percent likelihood of 8 to 13 named storms, of which 3 to 6 could become hurricanes and the potential of 1 to 2 of those becoming a major hurricane.
The primary reason for the outlook is the anticipated development of El Nino this summer.
According to the NOAA information, El Nino causes stronger wind shear, which reduces the number and intensity of tropical storms and hurricanes. It can also strengthen the trade winds and increase the atmospheric stability across the tropical Atlantic.
But don’t let the forecast fool you.
It only takes only one storm to hit a community and bring hazards such as storm surge, high winds, flooding and tornadoes.
“What we try to impress upon people is that it doesn’t matter if it’s an inactive season or an active one, it only takes one,” said John Cole of the National Weather Service forecast office in Newport, which includes Onslow and Carteret counties in its coverage area.
Hurricane Andrew hit Florida in 1992 as a Category 5 storm. It was one of only 7 named storm that season, well below the average. In 1993, Hurricane Emily brushed the Outer Banks and was one of only 8 named storms.
Cole said storm surge is the biggest threat property and lives during hurricanes and a new tool is available this year to help residents prepare for potential flooding from storm surge, the abnormal rise of water generated by a storm beyond predicted astronomical tides.
The National Hurricane Center will generate maps in conjunction with a hurricane watch, and in some cases a tropical storm watch, to show geographic areas where inundation from storm surge could occur.
“It will show specifically on the map what areas could see inundation and at what height above ground level,” Cole said.
Joy Branham, chief executive officer for the Onslow County and Coastal Carolina chapters of the Red Cross, said there are many convenient ways for residents to get information to prepare, from the upcoming Hurricane Preparedness Fair to a Red Cross hurricane app available for mobile devices.
With nearly a million downloads to date, Branham said the hurricane app has been a popular one and includes a wide variety of resources for being ready before, during and after a storm. There’s information on emergency kits, what to do in a power outage, preparing a home disaster response plan, and what to do in case of an evacuation.