WASHINGTON, D. C. (Monday, September 10, 2018) –– As Hurricane Florence continues to gather strength, pick up speed, and pack sustained winds near 140 miles per hour, Virginia Governor Ralph S. Northam this evening issued a mandatory evacuation order for certain coastal areas of the state of Virginia beginning tomorrow, namely in Hampton Roads and the Eastern Shore. It could impact nearly 250,000 residents in the flood-prone evacuation zone. Earlier today, Maryland Governor Lawrence Hogan signed an executive order ahead of the landfall of the Category Four cyclone.
Governor Hogan joins Virginia Governor Northam, and the governors of North Carolina and South Carolina in sounding a clarion call to protect assistance to the vulnerable, mobilize resources, to mitigate damages, and to maximize recovery efforts in the wake of Florence, which is now forecast to be a major hurricane. The executive orders also will help to protect consumers from price gouging.
That could happen given the prospect of “runs on gasoline as massive evacuations take place” in North Carolina, warns the Oil Price Information Service (OPIS), which provides daily fuel price data to AAA. To prevent that, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper has ordered a waiver of fuel vapor regulations (FVR).
“So far, there is no word on any similar waivers for South Carolina or Virginia, but there are efforts afoot to relax regulations if supply could similarly be compromised,” reports OPIS.
In fact, the storm will likely have an impact on East Coast gasoline prices this week, should Florence follow her projected path, warns AAA. A storm like this typically causes an increase in fuel purchases in the market and a slowdown in retail demand. Motorists can expect spikes in pump prices to be brief, but possibly dramatic, according to AAA. So make sure your vehicle has a full tank of gas. In light of this, AAA will continue to monitor the storm and will provide updates. Motorists can find the latest gas prices at GasPrices.AAA.com.
Governor Hogan’s office is warning; “Weather forecasters have indicated that there is the potential for life-threatening conditions, including catastrophic flooding as well as high winds and dangerous conditions in our waterways. Current forecasts indicate that torrential rains, tropical storm force winds, and tidal flooding/storm surge could impact the state beginning as early as Thursday.”
Storm preparations should include having a storm kit, evacuation plan, and proper insurance coverage, which includes flood insurance, advises AAA Insurance. “Along with your hurricane supply kit, officials recommend that families ensure they have emergency plans in place and that they communicate and practice them with family members and friends. According to FEMA officials, 60 percent of Americans do not practice what to do in the event of a natural disaster.”
If it seems like hurricane season has been getting worse and worse, it’s because it has, observers AAA Mid-Atlantic. In 2017, there were 17 named storms– ten of which were hurricanes, with sustained winds of at least 74 mph–and together they caused a record $316 billion in damage. Last year was also the first time in which the United States endured two storms that were Category 4 or stronger in the same year.
These statistics are jaw-dropping, but they also prove how important it is to take action when it comes to hurricane safety. Here are some timely and timeless tips:
- Secure Your Home – Inspect your home for minor repairs needed to roof, windows, down spouts, etc. Trim trees or bushes that could cause damage to your home in case of high winds.
- Make a Plan – Develop a Family Emergency Plan to include ways to contact each other, alternative meeting locations, and an out-of-town contact person. Identify a safe room or safest areas in your home. Research your evacuation route. Be sure and include plans for your pets.
- Take Inventory – Update your home inventory by walking through your home with a video camera or smart phone. Keep a record of large purchases including the cost of the item, when purchased and model and serial numbers as available.
- Stock Emergency Supplies – Plan for a week's worth of non-perishable food and water. Be sure and have flashlights, extra batteries, battery-powered radio, medications, first aid kit, blankets, toiletries, diapers, etc. You may also want to prepare a portable kit and keep in your car should you evacuate.
- Protect Your Property – Review your homeowners insurance with your insurance agent to determine if you have adequate protection. Discuss your deductibles. Be aware that flood insurance is not typically covered under your Homeowners policy. Flooding to your automobile is available under the Physical Damage coverage.
In addition to the high winds, Hurricane Florence will also pack a lot of rain. Overall you want to be extra cautious in wet weather. Slow down, avoid hard braking or turning sharply and allow ample stopping distance between you and the cars in front of you.
Slowing down during wet weather driving can be critical to reducing a car’s chance of hydroplaning, when the tires rise up on a film of water. With as little as 1/12 inch of water on the road, tires have to displace a gallon of water per second to keep the rubber meeting the road.
In addition, make sure your vehicle also has properly inflated tires and ensure your wiper blades are not leaving streaks. Have your vehicle inspected by a certified mechanic to determine if the brakes, fluid levels, air conditioning and belts are in good working condition.
Governor Larry Hogan’s executive order “will allow the state to more efficiently coordinate support and provide assistance to local jurisdictions within Maryland and neighboring states.” This is not a drill. Hurricane season runs from June 1st – November 30th.
Nature reminds us that in the blink of an eye, everything can change. Cherished possessions can be destroyed, homes leveled, families torn apart. That is why it is important to do everything possible before disaster strikes.
“Hurricanes and typhoons are the same weather phenomenon: tropical cyclones,” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). “A tropical cyclone is a generic term used by meteorologists to describe a rotating, organized system of clouds and thunderstorms that originates over tropical or subtropical waters and has closed, low-level circulation.”
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AAA provides automotive, travel and insurance services to 58 million members nationwide and nearly 79,000 members in the District of Columbia. AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years. The not-for-profit, fully tax-paying member organization works on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. For more information, visit http://aaa.com