Hurricane season officially started June 1, but for those of us enjoying life on Long Island and in the Northeast, our storm season starts just about … now.
Of the 19 hurricanes that have made their way here since 1991, all but six have visited us in August or later. In fact, Hurricane Sandy — the storm we’re still talking about a decade later — didn’t ravage our homes and businesses until Halloween weekend.
Of course, we think of tropical storms and hurricanes as a problem for warmer climates. And for the most part, that’s true. There have been 453 named storms on the Atlantic Ocean side of the world over the past 30 years — an average of 15 per year. But Long Island can expect to see a named storm every year and a half.
With five named storms finding their way here since 2020 — including Henri and Ida last year — the law of averages would suggest a rather long respite. But with global warming intensifying weather patterns, we can only expect the number of storms we’ll face this year and beyond to grow.
And we need to be ready.
The National Weather Service suggests making preparations now, and not waiting for a storm to show up on our doorstep.
First, know your evacuation zone. Long Island is considered “Zone 1” in New York. It’s part of an overall area that is most likely to flood, and is typically one of the first areas to be evacuated. Just about all of Long Island is in Zone 1, along with other coastal and low-lying parts of the greater New York City region, including a good portion of eastern Queens and Brooklyn, lower Manhattan, all of Staten Island, and the eastern parts of the Bronx.
Next, put together an emergency kit. This should include everything from the absolute essentials, like water and food, to first aid kits, flashlights, manual can openers, maps and extra batteries.
Then, sit down with your family and write an emergency plan. Include any close friends and neighbors who might need help in the event of an emergency, and create a list of whom you should contact if you do have to abandon your home. Know where you’re going and what you’ll do.
You’ll want to keep a copy of the plan in a safe place — near your emergency kit — so you can access it in a hurry.
These are all steps you’ve been reminded of time and again, so much you might be tired of hearing it. But when a storm does come and you have to leave in a hurry, you’ll be glad you put all this together.
And there is more you can do before we even have to worry about a storm. Like reviewing the insurance policies for your home, vehicles and property. Make sure you have adequate coverage not just for winds, but also for flooding. Even if you’ve never flooded before — storms have a way of making the impossible possible.
If you’re not sure what the difference is between a tropical storm and a hurricane, or a watch and a warning, take the time to learn. Any type of alert is serious, but some threats are more imminent than others. You can find out more about all of this at www.Weather.gov. And one agency many of us have depended on in past storms has been the Long Island chapter of the American Red Cross, which serves more than 2.8 million people across Nassau and Suffolk counties. The Red Cross has many suggestions on how to prepare for a major storm, which you can find at www.tinyurl.com/RedCrossEmergency.
Twelve Americans died in hurricanes last year, and an average of 45 lives have been lost each year since 1991. Knock on wood, 2022 could be a quiet storm season. But it’s better to be prepared for nothing than not be prepared for something. And being prepared could very well be the difference between life and death.