By Kimberly Wallis

So NOAA’S National Hurricane Center just predicted your family’s new home is right smack dab in the middle of a hurricane path? First things first, don’t panic. I know this sounds crazy but here in Louisiana we have plenty of experience with this! Being prepared and able to mobilize quickly without a lot of undue stress comes second nature, so just follow our lead.

A night time image of 2021’s Hurricane Ida shows the rain bands stretching out. Photo by NASA

Hurricane season is June through November, with most activity occurring mid-August through mid-October. With that being said, please keep in mind that Mother Nature doesn’t always actually abide by the official hurricane season dates, so it’s possible they may be a little earlier or later in the season.

This cannot be stressed enough: do not wait until a hurricane is coming to get stocked up. By then, it’s much too late because store shelves will already be wiped smooth out of anything you might find even remotely useful! 

In fact, Memorial Day weekend is the perfect time to get prepped. The state of Louisiana has had an annual “Disaster Preparedness” sales tax holiday since 2008. This tax holiday is meant to encourage people to purchase disaster preparedness supplies in preparation for potential emergencies.

Many online retailers carry prepackaged emergency preparedness kits, which is basically a starter kit because everyone has different needs that have to be accommodated once the basics have been met. There are differences between the checklists of an evacuation kit and a stay at home kit. There are checklists for elderly family members, the disabled, children, even pets. Researching your family’s specific needs can better help you when it comes to personalizing your kit. 

Some things are not on the checklist that you will find you need in these emergency situations. If you have children, what do they like to do if television and gaming is out? Maybe investing in an alternative charging method (such as solar powered) sounds like a better option now that you know this is something you even need to consider! When the kids have been bored and cranky all day, how will you unwind? I like to read so a good book or two would be a prep kit essential for me!  

Often, our anxieties are picked up on by our children. So, if you are a parent, I highly recommend searching out age appropriate activities for kids beforehand! It will keep them occupied and help with everyone’s stress levels if they are included in your family’s disaster preparation.

There are so many excellent resources available. The Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness developed the Louisiana Emergency Preparedness Guide. You can find some great information on what to do before, during, and after a hurricane at the American Red Cross, which is also helpful for those who will be seeking shelter. You can apply for disaster assistance with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) here

Hurricanes can be unpredictable with their devastation, no doubt. It may be that your home gets out unscathed and your neighbor loses theirs, or vice versa. Just try to remember that when disaster strikes down here, Louisiana pulls together to get through it and you’re one of us now!