Preparing for the peak of hurricane season

by | Aug 15, 2023

More than two months into the 2023 hurricane season, the Atlantic basin has been relatively calm and North Carolina hasn’t yet faced a threatening storm. But warm water temperatures being observed off the coast and throughout the south Atlantic serve as a reminder that there is no such thing as preparing too early for the threat of a hurricane.

While hurricanes aren’t caused by warm water, warm open waters serve as the energy source that allows hurricanes to strengthen rapidly. That means the warmer the water is as a system tracks across the Atlantic, the stronger the storm can be.

“The peak of hurricane season is approaching. It’s time to use these nice blue-sky days to prepare for the disastrous grey-sky days. If you are in the coastal region, Know Your Zone. some of our most concentrated agriculture is located within the coastal plains region and along the transportation routes of 100-500 year flood risk. The hazards aren’t just isolated to the coast, tropical cyclones can be dangerous and destructive from the coastal plains to the Piedmont, to the mountains. Tropical cyclones from the gulf have caused considerable damage in the mountains, like Tropical Storm Fred in 2021. Now is the time to prepare. Make a plan for destructive flooding and wind damage on your farm, power outages, and transportation cut-off. Talk with your farm workforce and help prepare them. Provide preparedness information and contact information for organizations that provide support to disaster victims. Talk with your County Extension agents, County Emergency Management, and response services to let them know what is on your farm that may be at risk if you were impacted. Also, let them know what may be a hazard to them and the community if it becomes damaged or spilled.  ”

Hurricane preparation is just one of the specialties of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Emergency Programs Division, but this time of year, it’s a priority.

Here are a few things you can do now to prepare for a hurricane:

  • Know your risk. The first step in preparing for hurricane season is to know your risk. The National Hurricane Center has an interactive map to show the areas that are at risk for storm surge based on the category of the anticipated storm. Realize that storms can have quick changes in wind speed and it is always better to prepare for a category above what is currently predicted. The interactive map viewer for storm surge can be found at If you are outside the storm surge area, your risk for flooding can be found at the NC Flood Risk Information System (
  • Develop an Emergency Plan. Put this in writing and share with your household, employees and others who may assist. Include meeting points, emergency contact lists, and alternative evacuation routes in case infrastructure is damaged.
  • Develop an evacuation plan for you, your companion animals, and valuable livestock if possible. If you live in an area that is at risk for hurricanes or flooding, you need to have an evacuation plan in place. This plan should include where you will go if you need to evacuate, how you will get there, and what you will take with you.
    • Companion animals: Many counties have sheltering capabilities for humans and companion animals. Check with your local health department or emergency management to determine if collocated sheltering is available. Maintain current rabies vaccinations and bring records with you and your pets since many shelters will not accept unvaccinated animals.
    • Horses: The Marketing Division of NCDA&CS has some helpful links to the Equine Disaster Response Alliance and Equine Emergency Sheltering and Transportation for those wanting to evacuate with their horses. Each facility has their own vaccination and supply requirements but almost all require a copy of a current Coggins test. Check with the individual sites to see what their requirements are so you are prepared if you need to evacuate.
    • Livestock and poultry: Evacuation options are limited for these species or are not feasible due to size and number of animals. If you have a few livestock pets, check with some of the horse facilities to see if they can handle smaller ruminants or even some cattle.
  • Assemble disaster supplies for you and all animals that you are responsible for. You should have a disaster supply kit that includes food, water, first-aid supplies, and other essentials. You should also have a plan for how you will communicate with your family and friends if you are separated during a hurricane. Determine now what is the best way to communicate your need for assistance (Ag Hotline, Cooperative Extension, Emergency Management, etc.).
  • Protecting Livestock. Unconfined livestock can usually take care of themselves. Move them to the highest grounds in case of flooding. Provide feed and plenty of clean water.
    • If animals live in confinement (i.e. poultry or swine), have a backup generator and plenty of fuel in case of power outages. Clear debris from all vents so they can be opened to allow natural air flow if needed. Ensure enough feed is available if trucks are unable to deliver for an extended period of time.
  • Get an insurance checkup. Make sure that your homeowners insurance policy covers hurricane damage. You may also want to consider getting flood insurance, if you are in a flood-prone area.
    • Secure Important Records and Documents. Pre- and post-hurricane documentation is extremely important for insurance compensation and recovery assistance.
  • Strengthen your home and property. There are a number of things you can do to strengthen your home and property against hurricane damage. This includes boarding up windows, securing loose items, trimming or removing trees that could be a risk, and clean out culverts, ditches, and other drainage areas.
  • Stay informed. It is important to stay informed about the latest hurricane forecasts and warnings. You can do this by listening to the radio, watching the news, following your local emergency management agency on social media, and receiving emergency alerts on your mobile phone.

Access more resources to help you prepare your home or farm for a storm here. You can view a hurricane preparedness guide from the NC Department of Public Safety in English here or in Spanish here.