Hurricanes - During the Storm

Important terms to know

Tropical Depression:  A disturbance with a clearly defined low pressure area and wind speeds as high as 38 mph.

Tropical Storm:  A distinct low pressure area defined by a counterclockwise rotating circulation with winds of 39-73 mph.

Hurricane:  A warm-core tropical cyclone in which the maximum sustained surface winds are 74 mph or greater.


The difference between a ‘Watch’ and a ‘Warning’

Tropical Storm Watch:  An alert that tropical storm conditions may pose a threat to a specific area within 36 hours.

Tropical Storm Warning:  An alert that tropical storm conditions are expected in a specific area within 24 hours.

Hurricane Watch: An alert that hurricane conditions may pose a threat to a specific area within 48 hours.

Hurricane Warning:  An alert that hurricane conditions may pose a threat to a specific area within 36 hours.


About Evacuation Orders

Voluntary Evacuation Order:  When a voluntary evacuation order has been issued, threat to life and property may be a high probability. Evacuation is not required, but would be wise, particularly for residents with special needs, parents with small children, and the elderly.

Mandatory Evacuation Order:  When a mandatory evacuation order has been issued, imminent threat to life and property exists. Individuals MUST relocate and seek refuge in an inland, non-evacuation area.


Before the Storm

Every resident in the Aston should be prepared to be self-sufficient for the five days after a major storm.  Immediately after the storm property clean-up and recovery efforts will commence and we ask that residents ensure that they are not impeding Staff from providing a quick response. If you are in a situation where you will have special needs, you must have a Preparedness Plan in place and have someone to rely on who can be focused on your needs.  Because of liability reasons, you should know that Aston Staff is not here to aide you in the event of a medical emergency or assist you with special physical or medical needs.


Preparedness Plan

Know and discuss the hazards that may affect your family. Know your unit's vulnerability to potential damage by wind, flying debris, and possible water infiltration. Also, discuss the following:

  • Locate a safe room or the safest areas in your unit for each hurricane hazard. If you are in need of a shelter, know what shelter you should report to by following the County’s and the City’s information.

  • Have an out-of-state friend as a family contact, so all your family members have a single point of contact.

  • Make a plan now for what to do with your pets, if you need to evacuate.

  • Post emergency telephone numbers by your phones and make sure your children know how and when to call 911.

  • Check your insurance coverage – know what is and isn’t covered by homeowners insurance.  Know your insurance requirements and processes to file claims.  Inventory, document and photograph all your belongings for insurance purposes.  

  • Get cash. Banks and ATMs do not operate without electricity in the aftermath of a major storm.

  • Get gas. Gas pumps do not operate without electricity in the aftermath of a major storm.


Prepare your Emergency Supplies Kit to last you a minimum of 1 week

Basic Items:

  • Water (1 gallon per person per day)

  • Canned meat, fish, fruit, or vegetables

  • Bread in moisture proof packaging

  • Snack foods, cookies, candy or dried fruit

  • Canned soups & non-perishable milk

  • Powdered or single serve drinks

  • Cereal or granola bars

  • Instant tea or coffee

  • Portable battery powered lanterns

  • Several large trash bags

  • Batteries, including hearing aid batteries

  • First aid kit with aspirin & antibiotic cream

  • Mosquito repellent

  • Sun screen (SPF 45 recommended)

  • Waterproof matches / butane lighter

  • Unscented bleach (add 8 drops of bleach per gal.) or water purification tablets 

Critical Supplies:

  • Prescription medicines (1-month supply and copy of prescriptions)

  • Toilet paper and paper towel

  • External power-bank batteries for cell phones

  • Bedding, pillows, sleeping bag

  • Change of clothing

  • Rain ponchos and work gloves

  • Extra eye glasses or contact lenses

Baby Supplies:

  • Disposable diapers

  • Formula, food and medication

  • Bottles and feeding utensils

Important Documents:

  • Collect all your critical legal and sentimental, heirloom documents (such as family photos) and have a sealable waterproof container where you can locate them.  If you can, you should scan all legal documents and upload them to a cloud service for safe filing before the hurricane season even begins.

  • Insurance documents

  • A list of all your important contacts (family members, doctors, and insurance agents)

  • Banking information

  • Leases / mortgage

  • Proof of occupancy (such as utility bill)

  • Photo inventory of your personal belongings

  • Waterproof container to store documents


Individuals with Special Needs

If you have special needs or are caring for someone with special/medical needs, it is imperative that you prepare for a disaster well in advance. The following are important points to consider: 

  • Do you, or someone you take care of, require special medication in times of turmoil?  Have those stocked and ready, especially if these include oxygen, tube feeding, dialysis, or other life sustaining equipment?

  • Are you, or someone you take care of, physically impaired?  Will a wheelchair, walker, a special bed, or special toilet items be needed?  Consider that there may be critical electrical failure resulting from a damage to the elevators or back-up power system, whereby the stairs will be the only way to access upper-level floors.  If you, or someone you are taking care of, cannot go up or down stairs, you must make plans to shelter somewhere else.

  • Will you, or someone you take care of, require a special needs shelter?  If you have to evacuate, will you need transportation?  Do you have someone to take you?  If not, pre-arrange with a medical service or know what options you have?

  • Pre-registration for Special Medical Needs Shelters offered by the County is generally offered throughout the year. While this is not required, it is strongly encouraged to ensure that you make preparations so the shelter will be prepared to meet your needs if you must evacuate. Contact the Countyfor more information by dialing 311.


Regarding your Pets

Contact your veterinarian or local humane society for information on preparing your pets for an emergency. Consider the following tips:

  • Make sure your pets are current on their vaccinations. Pet shelters may require proof of vaccines.

  • Have a current photograph of your pet(s).

  • Keep a collar with identification on your pet and have a leash on hand at all times to control your pet.

  • Months before the start of the hurricane season, begin to train your pet to ‘go’ on a wee pad and assign a specific location in your home where they will know to find it.  Do not rely on the parking garage and the stairwells as suitable locations where your pets can relieve themselves, as you will be damaging property and subject to fines.

  • Have a properly-sized pet carrier for each animal - carriers should be large enough for the animal to stand and turn around.

  • Plan your evacuation strategy and don't forget your pet! Specialized pet shelters, animal control shelters, veterinary clinics and friends and relatives out of harm's way are ALL potential refuges for your pet during a disaster.

Pet Supplies:

  • Proper identification collar and rabies tag, proper identification on all belongings

  • A carrier or cage

  • A leash

  • Ample supply of food, water and food bowls

  • Any necessary medications, specific care instructions 

  • Wee pads or newspapers and trash bags for clean-up.


Evacuation Tips:  Have a Place to Go

  • If your family hurricane preparedness plan includes evacuation to a safer location, then it is important to consider the following points:

  • If ordered to evacuate, do not wait or delay your departure. If possible, leave before local officials issue an evacuation order for our area. Even a slight delay in starting your evacuation will result in significantly longer travel times as traffic congestion worsens.

  • If ordered to evacuate, know where you are going. Plan and practice exit routes from our home. Keep at least a half tank of gas in your car at all times during the storm season. Take your disaster supply kit with you.

  • If you decide to evacuate to another county or region, be prepared to wait in traffic. The large number of people in this state who must evacuate during a hurricane will probably cause massive delays and major congestion along most designated evacuation routes; the larger the storm, the greater the probability of traffic jams and extended travel times. If possible, make arrangements to stay with a friend or relative who resides closest to your home and who will not have to evacuate. Discuss with your intended host the details of your family evacuation plan well before the beginning of the hurricane season.

  • If a hotel or motel is your final intended destination during an evacuation, make reservations before you leave. Most hotel and motels will fill quickly once evacuations begin. The longer you wait to make reservations, even if an official evacuation order has not been issued for our area, the less likely you are to find hotel/motel room vacancies, especially along interstate highways.

  • If you are unable to stay with friends or family and no hotels/motels rooms are available, then consider evacuating to a shelter. Remember, shelters are not designed for comfort and do not usually accept pets.  If you have a pet, know which pet-friendly shelters are available. Bring your disaster supply kit with you to the shelter.