Hurricane Matthew left a trail of devastation in its wake, claiming more than 1,000 lives in Haiti and at least 33 in the United States. The Category 5 storm also caused billions of dollars in property damage.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott had a simple message as the hurricane advanced upon his state: "Evacuate, evacuate, evacuate."
While it brought only light rain to central Pennsylvania, the storm offered a couple of valuable lessons for the midstate: the importance of heeding mandatory evacuations and of being ready for the next time an emergency occurs.
Fires and floods cause most evacuations, according to the federal government's website, Ready.gov. Also, hundreds of times each year, transportation and industrial accidents release harmful substances that displace residents.
Some evacuations are mandatory, but others only are advised or up to a household's discretion. Hurricane Matthew destruction was anticipated, while other disasters occur with little or no warning. The amount of time depends on the hazard.
So it's important to plan ahead. Ready.gov offers these tips:
If time allows, also take these measures:
Floods are the most common natural disaster in the United States -- and certainly no stranger to central Pennsylvania. (Most homeowner policies don't provide flood coverage, as we explain in this blog post.)
The American Red Cross offers a number of tips for responding appropriately to a flood, including being prepared to evacuate at a moment's notice.
Whether it's a flood or hurricane or other emergency, the message is the same: take evacuations with utmost seriousness. In anticipation of Hurricane Matthew, Craig Fugate, administrator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, noted:
"If instructed to evacuate, don't wait. You can always repair and rebuild -- and we'll be here to help you do that. The most important thing you can do is keep you and your family safe."
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