As I write this blog post, the Florida panhandle is being hit by the strongest hurricane in 100 years. First and foremost, we at RPH are praying for everyone that is caught in the path of this monster storm.

Having lived in Raleigh all of my adult life, I have seen my share of crazy weather that central N.C. has to offer: ice storms, snowstorms, hurricanes, tornadoes, severe thunderstorms etc., and I always try to be as prepared as possible.

When the forecast is calling for crazy weather, the first thing you need to do is rush to the store and buy all the milk, bread and water that you can. Step two: talk about the impending disaster to your friends and family members until you’re blue in the face. And finally, step three: panic!!!

While many people do take these three steps when they hear about an incoming storm (e.g. every resident in Raleigh/Durham a few weeks ago!), it’s not the way to actually prepare for a natural disaster.  While you should make a trip to the grocery store, it’s important to buy nonperishable items (such as Ramen Noodles, peanut butter, crackers etc). You’ll also want to stock up on batteries for flashlights and a portable radio. Be sure to fill your car with fuel in case you need to evacuate (gas stations tend to run out of gas quickly when news of an incoming natural disaster breaks). If you’re within city limits, I would recommend getting a case or two of water (get more if you’re on a well).

As for preparing the pluming in your house for a natural disaster, there isn’t much to do, but there are a few precautions you can take. First, make sure you know where your main water shut off is located, and that it’s operating properly. This is important in case a tree falls on your house and damages the waterlines, in which case you’ll want to shut the water off as soon as you safely can. You should also check your gas shut off for the same reason. If you evacuate your home, be sure to turn the water and gas off at the source just in case there is severe damage to the home.

So the storm has passed, what do you do now? If there was no obvious damage like a tree falling through the roof, you should examine the yard for any uprooted trees that may have damaged the sewer line or water main. Also, try to clear any debris covering the storm drains so that the storm water can exit as quickly as possible to avoid flooding.

The most important thing to do to prepare for any natural disaster is keep yourself and your family (pets included) safe. After all, your house can be rebuilt, and your possessions can be replaced, but the loss of life is forever.