Don’t get complacent

Published 9:49 pm Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Nearly two months of the official Atlantic Hurricane Season has come and gone without a lot of activity.

The first system formed in May, with Subtropical Storm Andrea developing south of Bermuda but quickly fell apart.

After that, all was quiet until July.

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Hurricane Barry, oddly enough, actually developed as a trough of low pressure over the Midwest United States, not over warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic Ocean as tropical storms usually do.

Barry then moved into the Gulf of Mexico, strengthened slightly and turned back toward land, making landfall as a Category 1 hurricane over Louisiana. Many downplayed its significance — and indeed, it was nowhere near as bad as other storms that have struck the Gulf Coast — but it still killed one man and caused an estimated $500 million to $900 million in damage.

This week, Tropical Depression Three developed and then dissipated almost as quickly near the Bahamas.

The fact that this season has been relatively quiet, and none of these storms has yet come close to threatening Virginia, is not reason to become complacent. We still have more than four months of hurricane season to go, and the most active months are still ahead of us.

Here are some things you can do now, if you haven’t already done them, to prepare:

  • Know your zone. Areas vulnerable to storm surge and other forms of flooding that frequently occur with hurricanes are separated into four zones. You can learn your zone by putting your physical address into the Know Your Zone tool at
  • Find out if you need flood insurance. Flood insurance is not covered by homeowners’ policies and must be purchased separately. There is a 30-day waiting period before a flood insurance policy takes effect, so you can’t wait until a storm is imminent. You may need it more than you think — according to the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, nearly 25 percent of flood claims nationwide occur in moderate- to low-risk areas.
  • Sign up for alerts at
  • Become familiar with your evacuation route and shelter locations. Make a plan for where you would go if evacuation is needed and how you would keep in touch with family members if the regular lines of communication are down.
  • Keep important documents in a safe place or create password-protected digital copies.
  • Gather needed supplies for at least three days, including water, food and medication. Don’t forget your pets.
  • Maintain your property well. Declutter drains and gutters, install check valves in plumbing to prevent backups, consider permanent storm shutters, and review insurance policies.