A potentially busy hurricane season looms for 2021, just a year after one of the hectic seasons on record, according to the National Hurricane Center. Forecasters predict between 13 and 20 named storms for the 2021 season, which began Tuesday, June 1.
The 2021 season follows a record-breaking season that included 30 named storms – two more than the record set in 2005, when Katrina and Rita routed Louisiana.
Last year’s storm list included Hurricane Laura, which carried sustained winds of 150 mph when it made landfall near Cameron on Aug. 27.
It marked the strongest wind speed at landfall for a Louisiana hurricane since 1856.
Laura brought damage to some areas of Pointe Coupee Parish, but Delta – which marked the extension into the Greek alphabet – proved more destructive.
“The 2020 hurricane season was a rough one, without a doubt,” said Mark Ward, director of the Pointe Coupee Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.
“It seemed like every time we turned around, we were prepping or responding to a tropical event,” Ward said, “Throw in the pandemic, and it was a particularly difficult year.”
“It was a tough season without doubt, and luckily we were spared some of what other parishes faced, but we still had numerous homes that took trees, wind damage and infrastructure damage,” he said.
“Delta by far was the most impacting last year as far as road closures, power outages, and it definitely was the worst for us.”
Homes and businesses sustained considerable damage throughout Pointe Coupee Parish during the rare October storm.
August and September traditionally figure as the busiest months for hurricanes in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico.
But it’s not a reason to let the guard down, Ward said.
“The early part of the season is usually a little light, and we often see storms pop up that end up back in the Atlantic, but we saw some early storms last year,” he said.
The bulk of the damage was reported in Morganza, Batchelor and Lettsworth, while the Livonia/Fordoche area also endured much of the wrath.
Storm names for this year include Ana, Bill, Claudette, Danny, Elsa, Fred, Grace, Henri, Ida, Julian, Kate, Larry, Mindy, Nicholas, Odette, Peter, Rose, Sam, Teresa, Victor and Wanda.
Pointe Coupee Parish Government plans to hold a hurricane stakeholder meeting to discuss preparation for the 2021 season.
The meeting last year was held in virtual format due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Ward recommends an early start on purchase of food, water, batteries and other essentials for the season.
He urged residents not to wait until the day before a storm to begin preparation.
“I would advise people that this time of year again, get a game plan and start preparing, make sure you have all the essentials you need so when the storm comes, it’s not panic,” he said.
“Aside from a plan for the household, it’s also good to reach out to the elderly or those with special needs to make sure they have a plan, as well.”
The Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness provides information on storm preparation at www.getagameplan.org.
Create a plan that includes how you will receive emergency alerts and warnings, a shelter plan, your evacuation route and your family/household communication plan.
You can find more guidance on creating a plan for your family here.
Sign up for your local emergency management alert system using apps such as FEMA, Hurricane: American Red Cross, My Radar and NOAA.
Stock up on emergency supplies to support you, for a minimum of five days, should you need to shelter-in-place; don’t forget things such as medications and pet supplies.
Prepare a “go-bag” in case you need to evacuate with short notice. The bag should have important documents, medicines, bottled water, a small first aid kit, blankets, flashlights, cash in small bills, a portable phone charger/cables and anything else your family might need in an emergency.
Prepare and protect your property by clearing drains and gutters, installing check valves in plumbing to prevent backups, trimming or removing trees close enough to fall on your home and consider hurricane shutters.
If you have NFIP flood insurance for your property, your policy may cover up to $1,000 in loss avoidance measures, such as sandbags and water pumps
Prepare financially by reviewing insurance policies, understanding the exclusions, and considering how you would cover any gaps. Consider how to access funds if the storm directly affects you.
DURING THE STORM
Here are actions you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones when you face a direct threat from a hurricane:
• Stay aware and connected, frequently checking storm updates and local evacuation orders.
• Review your plan with your family to make sure everyone in your household knows what to expect and how they will respond when the storm hits.
• Double-check your emergency supplies and restock if needed; ensure all of your important documents are in order and your “go-bag” is ready.
• Protect valuable possessions by storing any irreplaceable items, safe from wind damage and floodwaters; putting electronics and documents in water-tight containers and Ziplock bags is recommended. Photographs contain priceless memories, and we’ve found that the loss of them can be painful; don’t forget to protect any cherished photo albums.
• Take stock of your home; take photos of the outside and inside of your home, consider the likely impacts to the home, such as losing power and the consequences of that (e.g. food spoiling in the fridge) and try to lessen the effect of the impacts wherever you can.
• Prepare your vehicle by filling your gas tank in case you need to evacuate and stocking it with your emergency supplies and changes of clothes. If there isn’t a mandatory evacuation, consider parking your vehicle on higher ground in case of flooding.
• Protect your property by installing plywood or storm shutters over your windows and checking the property for any loose objects that could become projectiles during the storm and secure them.
• Charge your cell phone so you will have a full battery in case you lose power.
• Practice dynamic risk assessment during the storm. This means you constantly monitor the situation and identify potential hazards and threats, putting controls in place to protect yourself and your f