Delaware preparing now for peak hurricane season

Hurricane Arthur brought heavy rain and some wind to Rehoboth Beach as it passed by the Delaware Coastal area on Friday July 4, 2014 with minor damage.  (Chuck Snyder for WHYY, file)

Hurricane Arthur brought heavy rain and some wind to Rehoboth Beach as it passed by the Delaware Coastal area on Friday July 4, 2014 with minor damage. (Chuck Snyder for WHYY, file)

As climate change makes tropical storm systems stronger and more frequent, Delaware emergency management leaders are urging people to step up their preparation.

Although the state has consistently dodged direct hits from major hurricanes, heavy rains brought by tropical storms have caused significant damage, especially along Delaware’s low-lying coast.

Though it’s still early in hurricane season, A.J. Schall, director of the Delaware Emergency Management Agency, says now is the best time to make a plan to evacuate and build a kit of supplies to last at least three days on your own. Regardless of the predictions for how many storms there will be this year, it takes only one storm to cause a disaster, he said.

New Castle County emergency management coordinator outlines what steps residents should take to prepare for hurricane season. (Mark Eichmann/WHYY)

“They always come out with the statistics: Is it going to be an average season? Under average? … But it doesn’t matter, because we’ve seen some of the most devastating hurricanes happen, or damage done by only one hurricane,” Schall said.

The national forecast for the 2019 season calls for four to eight hurricanes, and maybe two to four hurricanes reaching Category 3 or higher. “We’ve seen a very wet summer, we’ve seen pop-up storms that have caused significant damage.”

The best way to prepare is to make a plan and pack an emergency kit with three days’ worth of supplies for you and your family. “If you could take care of yourself, it’s great because it’s going to lower that stress level if you have that plan,” Schall said.

New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer said it’s also key for local governments to coordinate ahead of time with their counterparts at the state and federal level. “We are collaborating like never before. employing technologies like never before, employing land-use policies like never before, to make sure that we can do whatever we can to prevent disasters such as hurricanes, and when they hit or if they hit, we are well prepared,” Meyer said.

That planning will benefit people living in the state during hurricane season and in other emergency situations throughout the year, Meyer said.

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