How to stay safe in Delaware this hurricane season

Jarek Rutz Headlines, Health

Atlantic hurricane season began June 1.

Atlantic hurricane season began June 1.

In the midst of the grimy haze of smoke covering the Northeast from Canadian wildfires, the First State is entering another challenge with Mother Nature: hurricane season. 

The Delaware Emergency Management Agency has released tips for Delaware residents and  visitors to “know your zone” and “get prepared” for the start of the Atlantic hurricane season, which began June 1.

According to the agency, Delaware is uniquely vulnerable to coastal storms because it is located on the Delmarva Peninsula and has the lowest average elevation of any state, about 60 feet above sea level.

In recent history, Tropical Storm Isaias in August 2020 was the most disastrous to the state.

It created at least three tornadoes in Delaware, one being a record EF2 tornado that traveled from Dover in Kent County to southwest of Glasgow in New Castle County. In Milford, one woman was killed by a falling tree after the storm.

EF2 tornadoes are classified as causing “considerable damage” and have winds of 111 to 135 miles per hour.

Even more recently, in September 2021, remnants of Hurricane Ida brought heavy rainfall that caused the Brandywine Creek to flood areas of downtown Wilmington, and more than 200 people were rescued from flooding. Millions of dollars in property damage resulted in a federal disaster declaration for New Castle County.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration  forecasts a “near-normal 2023 Atlantic hurricane season,” which could result in 12 to 17 named storms and five to nine hurricanes, with one to four of them being major.

Hurricanes have winds of 74 miles per hour or higher, and major hurricanes have gusts above 111 miles per hour, according to the administration.

PrepareDE,, the National Weather Service, the National Hurricane Center and HurricaneStrong offer information and resources on how to prepare and take action. 

One helpful resource is a new Know Your Zone  which helps users identify if their location is in one of the state’s four evacuation zones. Users can locate their zone via the evacuation zone lookup tool or the interactive evacuation zone map.

They can enter their address to find their evacuation zone in the event of a hurricane. 

Evacuation Zones in Delaware are identified as either A, B, C or D. These zones encompass low-lying areas susceptible to flooding and storm surge. When emergencies or disasters happen, the state will issue evacuation warnings or mandatory orders for communities in impacted or potentially impacted evacuation zones.

Delaware's hurricane zones

Delaware’s hurricane zones

PrepareDE suggests the following tips for residents to create a safety plan:

  • Know your hurricane and flood risk and take steps to prepare. Find out if you’re in an evacuation zone here, and if you’re in a flood zone here
  • Just because you don’t live near the coast doesn’t mean you’re not at risk. Remnants of tropical systems can bring tornadoes, extreme rainfall, and life-threatening flooding to areas hundreds of miles inland from the coast.
  • Plan now and know what you’ll do if a hurricane is forecast to impact your area, how to contact your family, and any community emergency plans.
  • Declutter drains and gutters to allow water to flow.
  • Check out the trees on your property and consider trimming trees and dead limbs.
  • Purchase a flood insurance policy. It can take up to 30 days for a policy to go into effect and most homeowner’s policies do not cover flooding. 
  • Take into account seniors and those with special needs. Read about this Preparedness Buddy program to help those individuals.
  • The Office of Animal Welfare and Delaware Animal Response Program has resources for pets in emergencies.
  • Once you have a plan, go over it and make sure everyone in the family knows what to do. Include children in your plan and help them practice it with the family. 

The Emergency Management Agency suggests making a safety and rescue kit.

This includes: 

  • Gathering supplies for at least one week for every member of the family, including non-perishable food, water, medications, and infant formula and diapers for small children.
  • Including a first-aid kit, flashlights, radios, matches in a waterproof container and spare batteries.
  • Keeping a small amount of cash in a safe place in case ATMs are not working.
  • Keeping pet supplies, including crates, extra food and water, and other items they may need.
  • Keeping important documents in a safe place or creating password-protected digital copies. Consider using a waterproof container to store the copies.
  • Having a cell phone power bank or portable car charger and trying to charge phones ahead of time.
  • Making sure your car’s gasoline tanks are filled and replenishing propane tanks for outdoor grills.
  • Getting a generator or other power backup source. Only use a generator or other gasoline-powered machinery outdoors and away from windows.
  • Checking on your neighbors to make sure they are safe and prepared and have supplies they need.
  • Reviewing insurance policies to make sure you are covered. Document your property in advance, including photographs, in case you need to make an insurance claim.

The list of named storms for 2023 is  similar to the one from 2017 because the World Meteorological Organization reuses the names every six years, unless a storm is so powerful or damaging that its name is retired. 

The names Harvey, Irma, Maria, and Nate were retired from the 2017 season. 

Tropical cyclone names for 2023 include Arlene, Bret, Cindy, Don, Emily, Franklin, Gert, Harold, Idalia, Jose, Katia, Lee, Margot, Nigel, Ophelia, Philippe, Rina, Sean, Tammy, Vince, and Whitney.

2023 Atlantic storm names

2023 Atlantic storm names

For information on how to stay safe this hurricane season, check out these resources:

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