The majority of damage done by hurricanes is not wind. It is water. Tidal surges cause the most death and destruction in hurricanes.
We live inland where cities do not get the tidal surges. However, significant rain events will cause localized flooding. Heavy rains will cause localized problems with power, food and possible health risks after the storm passes. We do not live on the coast so we will not consider tidal surges to be a threat. People on the coast should be very aware of the damage that can be done by tidal surges. Each of the pictures in this article are examples of what a tidal surge can do.
Hurricanes do not sneak up on you.
Storms such as hurricanes are always predicted, tracked and announced well ahead of landfall. The plan in place must allow you to know what you are going to do well ahead of the storm.
You should know what level of storm is coming (Category 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5). You must have a plan for each size stores and know what you are going to do regarding each. Hurricanes Charlie, Jean and Francis of the 2005 season were all Category 3 storms. The damage from these storms was relatively minor and did not require evacuation. Hurricanes Andrew and Katrina were both Category 5 hurricanes that leveled entire towns. A Category 5 hurricane is a size storm that evacuation is the best plan.
Even if the storm does not hit Central Florida we could see an influx of evacuees that cause safety concerns for us. In 2012, Hurricane Ivan in Houston, TX created a different problem. Prior to the storm the evacuation routes out of town became clogged with traffic. Thousands of people were stranded, out of gas and out of supplies. They soon abandoned their vehicles and began wandering neighborhoods looking for shelter, gas and food.
Tornadoes are just as destructive but not as wide spread. They do come with very little warning. Therefore, there is no time for evacuation.
Underground shelters in Florida are simply not practical as the water table is too high. There still are measures that can be taken within a home to provide a small level of safety during these storms.
There is even a builder here in Florida that builds closets with walls designed as a storm shelter. Reinforced walls provide a measure of safety for short term weather related emergencies.
Rooms under stairs will also provide shelter from some storms. You may also find other rooms in your home that will provide some measure of safety as long as they are not against an outside wall.
Blizzards are not a problem in Florida. This type of disaster could come into play if we move to a more northern address. For now, blizzards receive the same level of preparedness as a hurricane.
Length of Disaster
Generally hurricanes are a day-long event with the aftermath lingering for days and weeks, not months. Service interruption of power, water, sewage and government services such as garbage could last for days and weeks after the storm but restoration will happen. The plan must take into account the possibility of at least a month without any of these services along with cleanup. The next level of hurricane disaster could be repeated storms, one after another. This has happened before during the hurricane season of 2003. That year it seemed that 3 of the 4 storms that hit Florida intersected in our yard.