What To Do In Case of a Hurricane


What is a Hurricane?

Hurricanes are tropical cyclones with torrential rains and sustained winds of 74 miles per hour or greater which blow in a counter-clockwise direction around a center "eye". Hurricane winds can exceed 155 miles per hour and severely effect areas hundreds of miles inland.

As hurricanes approach the coast, a huge dome of water called a storm surge crashes into the coastline, causing major damage to everything in its path. About nine out of ten people killed in hurricanes are victims of the storm surge. Hurricanes also spawn tornadoes and cause severe flooding from heavy rains.

Hurricanes are classified into the five categories below, based on their wind speeds, central pressure and damage potential.

  • Category ONE -- Winds 74-95 mph
  • Category TWO -- Winds 96-110 mph
  • Category THREE -- Winds 111-130 mph
  • Category FOUR -- Winds 131-155 mph
  • Category FIVE -- Winds greater than 155 mph


 What should I do before a hurricane?

  • Know the terms used by weather forecasters.
    • HURRICANE WATCH - A hurricane is possible within 36 hours. Stay tuned for additional advisories.
    • HURRICANE WARNING - A hurricane is expected within 24 hours. If advised to evacuate, do so immediately.
  • Listen for local radio or television weather forecasts. Purchase a NOAA weather radio with warning alarm tone and battery back-up.
  • Learn evacuation routes. Determine where you would go and how you would get there if you needed to evacuate. You can get information on the Lafayette Parish Hurricane Evacuation Routes by clicking here.
  • Talk to your family about hurricanes. Plan a place to meet your family in case you are separated from one another in a disaster. Choose an out-of-state contact for everyone to call to say they are okay.
  • Determine the needs of family members who may live elsewhere but need your help in a hurricane. Consider the special needs of neighbors.
  • Prepare to survive on your own for at least three days. Assemble a disaster supplies kit. Include a battery-powered radio, flashlights, extra batteries, a first-aid kit, blankets, clothing and food and water.
  • Make plans to protect your property. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows. A second option is to board up windows with 5/8" marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install. Tape does not prevent windows from breaking.
  • Know how to shut off utilities. Know where gas pilots are located and how the heating and air-conditioning system works.
  • Have your home inspected for compliance with local building codes. Many of the roofs destroyed by hurricanes were destroyed because they were not constructed according to building codes.
  • Consider flood insurance.
  • Make a record of your personal property. Take photographs of or videotape your belongings.


What should I do if a hurricane threatens?

  • Listen for information and instructions on radio or television newscasts. If a hurricane watch is issued, you have 24 to 36 hours before the hurricane hits land. A hurricane warning means that hurricane winds and storm tides are expected in a specific coastal area within 24 hours.
  • Get together with family members to talk about what needs to be done. Make sure everyone knows where to meet and who to call, in case you are separated from one another.
  • Secure your home. Close storm shutters. Secure outdoor objects or bring them indoors. Moor your boat if time permits.
  • Gather several days supply of water and food for each family member. Water systems may become contaminated or damaged. Sterilize and fill the bathtub to ensure a supply of safe water.
  • Make arrangements for pets. Pets may not be allowed into public shelters for health reasons.
  • Prepare to evacuate. Fuel your car. Review evacuation routes. If instructed, turn off utilities at the main valves.
  • Evacuate to an inland location if:
    • Local authorities announce an evacuation and you live in an evacuation zone.
    • You live in a mobile home or temporary structure - they are particularly hazardous during hurricanes.
    • You live on the coast, on a flood plain near a river or inland waterway.
    • You feel you are in danger.
  • When authorities order an evacuation:
    • Leave immediately to avoid being marooned by flooded roads and fallen trees.
    • Follow evacuation routes announced by local officials via radio and television broadcasts.
    • Stay away from coastal areas, river banks and streams until potential flooding is past.
    • And tell others where you are going.
  • If you are not required to evacuate, stay indoors during the hurricane and away from windows. Do not be fooled if there is a lull, it could be the eye of the storm-winds will pick up again. Listen to the radio or television for information.
  • Avoid using the phone except for serious emergencies.


What should I do after a hurricane?

  • Stay where you are if you are in a safe location until local authorities say it is okay to leave. If you evacuated the community, do not return until authorities say it is okay to return.
  • Keep tuned to local radio or television stations for information about caring for your family, where to find medical help, how to apply for financial assistance, etc.
  • Consider your family's health and safety needs. Keep your family together. Set up a manageable schedule to repair property. Be aware of symptoms of stress and fatigue.
  • Talk with your children about what has happened and how they can help during the recovery. Being involved will help them deal with the situation.
  • Stay away from disaster areas unless local authorities request volunteers.
  • Drive only when necessary. The streets will be filled with debris. Roads may have weakened and can collapse under the weight of a car.
  • Stay away from river banks and streams until potential flooding has passed.
  • Stay away from downed power lines and report them to the power company. Report broken gas, sewer or water mains.
  • Contact your insurance agent. Take photos of or videotape the damage.
  • Separate damaged and undamaged belongings.
  • Locate your financial records. Keep detailed records of cleanup costs.


Presented by:

City-Parish of Lafayette, Office of Emergency Preparedness,
Lafayette, Louisiana