A State of Emergency has been declared in St. Johns County in anticipation of Hurricane Matthew, and the entire city of St. Augustine has been ordered to evacuate, according to the St. Augustine Record. Matthew is currently passing through the Bahamas and has just strengthened to a category-4 hurricane, according to the National Hurricane Center.
St. Augustine residents can expect to feel the effects of Hurricane Matthew beginning on Thursday night, Oct. 6, according to Jason Hess, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Jacksonville. The storm is slated to begin with tropical storm-force winds between 60 to 80 mph that will continue to rise during the night, with hurricane-force winds possible by Friday, Oct. 7. Coastal residents of St. Johns County, such as those in St. Augustine, can expect to receive 6 to 8 inches of rain with 10 inches possible in some areas, Hess said.
Hurricane Matthew has the potential to cause extensive damage to Florida’s Atlantic coast with predicted maximum sustained winds of 140 mph, according to The National Hurricane Center. Therefore, it is essential that residents in vulnerable areas take the proper precautions to protect their family, home and property, from the devastating effects Matthew may have.
“Having a plan in place could mean the difference between life and death,” Gov. Rick Scott told reporters during a news conference held on Oct. 5.
Here are the ways residents in vulnerable areas should prepare for Hurricane Matthew prior to landfall.
Know Your Evacuation Route
St. Augustine residents living in Evacuation Zone A and parts of Zone B have been ordered to evacuate along their posted evacuation routes. The preferred route of evacuation is different based on where you live in St. Augustine, so be sure to review with all the members of your family where your evacuation route is and the quickest way to get there from your home.
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You can find your evacuation zone and route on the Florida Division of Emergency Management website.
Stock Up on the Essentials
St. Augustine families in the path of Hurricane Matthew should visit their local supermarkets and stock up on canned goods and non-perishables. It is recommended that each member of the family have enough food for three days, according to Federal Emergency Management Agency recommendations.
Bottled water is also extremely important, and FEMA recommends that you should stock at least one gallon per person for at least three days, so there is a sufficient amount for essential activities like cooking, drinking, and personal hygiene. Those who take medication regularly or use other medical equipment are also recommended to stock up before the storm, and have a five-day supply.
Locate Your Disaster Supply Kit
A hurricane that is projected to be as strong as Matthew can knock out power and other basic services for days, and make it difficult for emergency personnel to reach you. In such a situation the importance of having a stocked disaster supplies kit cannot be overstated. Make sure to keep food, water, a can opener, cell phone with a charger, first-aid kit, flashlight, radio, and extra batteries in your disaster supply kit, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
Prepare Your Home for the Worst
Hurricane force winds can tear the roof off of a house and uproot trees, so it is essential that you secure any items around your home that could be picked up by the wind to prevent them from potentially striking your or your neighbor’s home.
Flooding is another major concern during a hurricane and clean gutters can make a big difference in determining whether or not your home is flooded, according to Consumer Affairs. Sand bags may also be useful to help prevent flooding, and sand bag distribution locations are running in St. Johns County.
Finally, make sure that all the windows in your home are covered, as they can break easily during a storm. Shards of glass from broken windows can cause a serious injury to you or one of your family members, but this can be prevented by boarding up your windows with plywood, or installing permanent storm shutters, according to the FEMA.
Check Your Car
Evacuations can get hectic, and the last thing you want to have happen is to be out of gas when you need to quickly evacuate your home. Although there is no shortage of gas in the region, according to officials, there are long lines at the gas pump, so don’t wait to fill up your car. You should also make sure your car’s tires have the correct pressure and no holes, as a flat tire could also delay your evacuation.
Document the Damage
When Hurricane Hermine made landfall in Florida last month, we mentioned that if your home is damaged by the storm, you will need proof when filing your claim with the insurance company.
When taking pictures of your property after the storm, take a few wide-angle photos of your property, and make sure not to leave anything out of the photo. This includes the interior and exterior of your home, your garage, shed, and any other structures or parked vehicles on your property. It may be a good idea to take these same photos before the storm hits, so it is absolutely clear what your home looked like prior to the storm.
After the Storm
Sometimes, despite doing everything you could to protect your home and paying your premiums every month, the insurance company will still fight your claim. Or they might deny it outright. This frustrating and unfair treatment is not something you need to stand for.
Instead, consider looking into a knowledgeable insurance dispute attorney. If you’re already ready to file a claim, contact us today for a free, no-risk case evaluation.