Is Your Community Ready for Hurricane Season?

August 19, 2009

As the first hurricanes of the season begin grinding through the North Atlantic, forecasters say chances are good one will strike the US Atlantic or Gulf coasts. It is a good time for both journalists and local residents to prepare.

SEJ has prepared a list of resources which may be helpful to reporters doing hurricane stories — compiled in the Library on SEJ's Web site.

Before and after the storm-tracking and damage-reports, there are other stories you can do locally that may serve your audience.

  • You might publish a hurricane-preparation checklist for local residents and property-owners.
  • How do local zoning ordinances fit with the risk of wind and water destruction from hurricanes? Remember that many casualties occur far inland because of flooding from torrential rains. Can you find inundation maps for either storm surge or flood plains? Try starting at FEMA's Map Service Center.
  • What is the readiness level of state and local agencies for dealing with the overwhelming level of disaster hurricanes can cause?
  • Do local building codes realistically reflect the potential damage from both wind and water? What good building practices can minimize the damage?
  • What are the plans for evacuating your area if it falls under hurricane threat? Are they adequate? Is evacuation mandatory? What are local attitudes toward evacuation? Is the transportation system adequate to the task?