The blizzard that whacked the Northeast last weekend paralyzed the hardest-hit areas, and created a gigantic task for workers mobilized to clear roads and restore electricity to areas that lost power. The storm is a reminder that this season can pack a punch, and we need to be prepared to handle winter's wrath.
As the storm recovery begins, some AmeriCorps teams working with Hurricane Sandy will provide assistance in the region. Those looking for ways to help the affected areas are asked to visit the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster site to find locations to donate or volunteer. Do not self-deploy -- but you can help by checking on others in your community to make sure they are safe.
Watch the Weather Warnings
When winter storms loom, keep an eye on your local National Weather Service forecast and heed the warnings:
- Winter Weather Advisory – Conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences and may be hazardous. When caution is used, these situations should not be life threatening.
- Winter Storm Watch – Conditions are favorable for a winter storm event – any combination of heavy snow, heavy sleet, ice storm, and blowing snow. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for more information about the forecast.
- Winter Storm Warning – A winter weather event is occurring or will occur in your area.
- Blizzard Warning – Sustained wind or frequent gusts greater than or equal to 35 mph accompanied by falling and/or blowing snow, frequently reducing visibility to less than 1/4 mile for three hours or more.
Consider taking these steps adapted from the National Weather Service and Ready.gov when severe winter weather threatens.
Before the Storm
- Create a basic disaster supplies kit that includes a NOAA Weather Radio. You can find a list of items needed to make one for your home at the FEMA Ready.gov site.
- Make sure your disaster supplies kit is stocked for a winter weather event, including items such as rock salt, ice melt, or sand; snow shovels or other snow removal equipment; and blankets to keep your family warm. Also keep an emergency supply kit in your vehicle if you have to travel during winter weather.
- Make sure to have sufficient fuel for your home and in your vehicle. Wood supplies for fireplaces or stoves need to be kept dry.
- Learn the location of water shut-off valves in case a pipe bursts.
During and After the Storm
- Stay put at home if possible, and drive only if it's absolutely necessary – travel could be treacherous and there may be emergency restrictions on auto travel.
- Use kerosene heaters in well-ventilated areas to avoid build-up of toxic fumes. Refuel the heaters outside and keep them at least three feet from flammable objects.
- Don't use generators, grills, camp stoves or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning devices inside a home, garage, basement, or any partially enclosed area to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Make sure outdoor units are away from doors, windows, and vents that could allow carbon monoxide fumes inside.
- Use caution when walking on snowy or icy walkways.
- Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow. Overexertion can bring on a heart attack—a major cause of winter deaths. If you must shovel snow, stretch before going outside and take frequent breaks if you feel tired.
You can find more-detailed directions for surviving winter weather at the National Weather Service and Ready.gov.
This week, nearly 100 AmeriCorps members boarded planes from Sacramento, CA, to New Jersey and New York where they will help residents affected by Hurricane Sandy rebuild homes, remove debris, and manage volunteers. Southwest Airlines’ decision to donate travel to these young leaders made this deployment possible.
Growing up, I was fortunate enough to live a different experience than most. My parents were treasure hunters and I spent a majority of my childhood on their boat traveling in the Bahamas. Looking back, I almost feel as if I took those years a bit for granted; I never would have thought that the very boat I grew up on would be lifted and dropped in someone else’s yard. But when Hurricane George came through in 1998, that’s what happened. Little did I know, 14 years later, I would be on the other side of disaster recovery.
When AmeriCorps NCCC member Melissa Ettman was assigned to lead a Sacramento, CA-based team to help with the Hurricane Sandy cleanup in New York and New Jersey, she was familiar with many of the areas affected by the storm. In fact, her 87-year-old grandmother on Long Island was affected by the hurricane and had to live without electricity for a week.
Washington Convervation Corps
When it comes to massive storms like Hurricane Sandy, many dangers remain long after the weather event has dissipated. Some areas far from the front lines of the devastation won’t make headlines but will continue to feel the storm’s effects for some time to come.
American Red Cross
Our thoughts and prayers go out to those who have been affected by Hurricane Sandy. While the worst of the weather is beyond some areas on the East Coast, Sandy remains a very large storm system that continues to pose life-threatening hazards for coastal and inland areas including high winds, heavy rains, dangerous storm surge and flash flooding, and snow and cold weather hazards in some areas.