Extension is There When Disaster Strikes

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North Carolina is one of the most geographically diverse states in the union. We have miles of coastline, major rivers, mountains, foothills and plains.

While those features make North Carolina a beautiful and wonderful place to live, they also make it a near certainty that we all will be impacted by severe weather at some point.

Hurricanes hit the coast with some regularity. Rivers flood. Thunderstorms and even tornadoes strike the Piedmont. Blizzards and ice storms blanket the mountains.

The most feared storms are hurricanes, especially this time of year. The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June until November. The peak season is mid-August until late October. The most active month historically is September.

Just about any North Carolinian of any vintage has tales from a major hurricane — Florence in 2018, Matthew in 2016, Floyd in 1999, Fran in ‘96, Hugo in ‘89, and for old-timers the grandmama of them all, Hazel in ‘54.

“Just about any North Carolinian” is not hyperbole. Coastal communities are at high risk from damaging winds and storm surge from Atlantic cyclones, but hurricanes can leave a trail of destruction much further inland. Heavy winds, tornadoes, strong thunderstorms, flooding and landslides can extend even up into the mountains in the western part of the state.

Related: North Carolina 4-H’ers provided many acts of service in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence.

No matter what storm may be on the horizon, NC State Extension, with centers in every county of the state plus the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians, stands ready to help. Major storms are an unfortunate fact of life, and whenever disaster strikes Extension offers an extensive array of resources to help North Carolinians prepare for storms and recover in the aftermath.

Be Prepared

The best way to survive a disaster and to quickly recover is to have a plan. That includes preparing an evacuation kit, an important consideration especially for anyone living at or near the coast when a major hurricane is headed our way. Remember to include the basics — water, food, clothing and bedding, emergency supplies and special items. Keep the items you need during an evacuation in easy-to-carry containers, like a trash container, backpacks or duffel bags.

Extension factsheets are a key resource to help North Carolinians prepare for the worst, including how to protect valuable records, meal preparation and food safety after a power outage, and how to care for pets in an emergency.

Food Safety

Extended power outages after natural disasters can ruin refrigerated and frozen foods. Flooding can get into pantries. NC State Extension’s food safety experts have a wealth of information on preparing for and recovering after a hurricane — stock up on nonperishable food and water, have a digital thermometer handy to check food temperatures to determine what is safe to eat, etc. There is also instruction on meal prep after a storm, and cleaning up after a flood. 

There is additional advice on food safety during boil water advisories and winter storms.

After the Storm

The aftermath of hurricanes or any major storm can be devastating, no matter how much preparation has taken place. Extension offers advice on garden recovery and what foods are safe after a flood.

Related: To help families deal with issues ranging from cleaning a kitchen to avoiding pest problems, educators with NC State Extension developed a series of educational videos.

Extension’s NC Disaster Information Center has publications and factsheets, written and compiled by scientists and experts, with even more information to help North Carolinians when disaster threatens and strikes.

We also have a series of bilingual videos to help Spanish-speaking residents prepare for natural disasters or emergencies.

Help and advice from agents and specialists in Extension’s 101 centers across the state is always available.