image of barnstable county courthouse

Preparing For Atlantic Hurricane Season on Cape Cod: What You Need to Know

July 11, 2021 – It is Hurricane Preparedness Week in Massachusetts.  How prepared are you?  Do you know if you are in a flood zone? Do you have an evacuation plan? Do you know where emergency shelters are activated on Cape Cod?

Below find information on ways to be prepared and what to do in the event of a hurricane in our region.

Before a Hurricane

  • Know Your Zone – Learn if you live in a hurricane evacuation zone.
  • Find out whether your property is in a flood-prone or high-risk area by viewing the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) flood maps.
  • Create and review your family emergency plan. One of our favorite resources is this Emergency Preparedness Checklist from the American Red Cross.
    • If you live or work in a flood zone, hurricane evacuation zone, or an area that is prone to flooding, you should be prepared to evacuate.
    • If you receive medical treatment or home health care services, work with your medical provider to determine how to maintain care and service if you are unable to leave your home or have to evacuate.
  • Build an emergency kit for disasters that contains items that will sustain you & your family’s specific needs if you are not able to leave your home. If your resources are tight, be creative and seek help now to be ready.  Collect used soda or juice bottles, clean them out with a bleach solution, rinse them and then use them to stockpile water. Secure nonperishable goods from a local food bank.
  • Prepare your home:
    • Elevating your furnace, water heater, and electric panel to higher floors if they may be at risk during a flood.
    • Ensure your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are working and have fresh batteries.
    • If you live in a coastal community, review the Homeowner’s Handbook to Prepare for Coastal Hazards.
  • Coastal and inland flooding are significant hazards during a tropical storm or hurricane. Flood losses are not typically covered under renter and homeowner’s insurance policies. Consider purchasing flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Plan (NFIP).
    • Flood insurance is available in most communities whether or not your building is in a flood-prone area, but there is a 30-day waiting period before it goes into effect.

When a Hurricane or Topical Storm Is Approaching

  • Listen to local news stations and public officials for the latest information and updates.
    [su_highlight background=”#cbf6fe”]Check the status of power outages in your area at[/su_highlight]
  • Follow instructions from public safety officials. If told to evacuate, do so immediately. If you must evacuate your home, take only essential items, including your emergency kit, and bring your pets.
  • If you are not asked to evacuate and planning on riding out the storm at home, gather adequate supplies in case you lose power and water for several days and you are unable to leave.
  • Prepare for power outages by charging cell phones and electronics and setting your refrigerator and freezer to their coldest settings. If you use electricity to get well water, fill your bathtub with water to use for flushing toilets.
  • Prepare your home:
    • Secure or bring in outdoor objects (patio furniture, children’s toys, trash cans, etc.) that could be swept away or damaged during strong winds or flooding.
    • If damaging winds are expected, cover all of your windows. If you don’t have storm shutters, board up windows with 5/8” exterior-grade or marine plywood.
    • Prepare for flooding by elevating items in your basement, checking your sump pump, unplugging sensitive electronic equipment, clearing nearby catch basins, and parking vehicles in areas not prone to flooding.

During a Hurricane

  • Follow instructions from public safety officials. If told to evacuate, do so immediately. If you must evacuate your home, take only essential items, including your emergency kit, and bring your pets.
  • Know where you are going to go. Be familiar with Cape Cod’s Regional Sheltering System. Volunteer organizations (American Red Cross, Cape Cod Medical Reserve Corps, Disaster Animal Response Team, AmeriCorps Cape Cod, Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)) assist running Cape Cod’s regional shelter system, which consists of 6 shelters. All 6 of our regional shelters accept pets.

Regional Shelters on Cape Cod

Barnstable Intermediate School
895 Falmouth Road, Hyannis| Show on Map 

Cape Cod Regional Technical School
351 Pleasant Lake Avenue, Harwich| Show on Map 

Dennis-Yarmouth High School
210 Station Avenue, South Yarmouth| Show on Map 

Falmouth High School
874 Gifford Street, Falmouth | Show on Map 

Nauset Regional High School
100 Cable Road, Eastham | Show on Map 

Sandwich High School
365 Quaker Meetinghouse Road, Sandwich | Show on Map 

Important to Remember During a Hurricane

  • Avoid driving or going outdoors during a storm. Flooding and damaging winds can make traveling dangerous.
  • During strong winds in a hurricane, take shelter in a basement or an interior room (closet, interior hallway) on the lowest level of a building away from windows, doors, and outside walls.
  • If you must evacuate or are traveling during flooding, remember:
    • Do not walk-through flowing water. Most drownings occur during flash floods. Six inches of swiftly moving water can knock you off your feet.
    • Do not drive through flooded roads – “Turn Around, Don’t Drown!” Cars can be swept away in only two feet of moving water. If your vehicle is trapped in rapidly moving water, stay in the vehicle. If the water is rising inside the vehicle, seek refuge on the roof.
    • Do not drive around road barriers. Roads and bridges may be washed out or structurally unsound.
  • If you are sheltering in place, listen to local news outlets for updates. Conditions may change quickly, so be prepared to evacuate if necessary.

After a Hurricane

  • If you have evacuated, return home only when authorities say it is safe to do so. Check with local officials or call 2-1-1 to find shelter locations and other disaster information.
  • Be a good neighbor. Check on family, friends, and neighbors, especially the elderly, those who live alone, those with medical conditions and those who may need additional assistance.
  • Stay away from downed utility wires.  Always assume a downed power line is live.
  • If your power is out, follow these power outage safety tips.
    • Report power outages to your utility company.
    • Use generators and grills outside because their fumes contain carbon monoxide. Make sure your carbon monoxide detectors are working as it is a silent, odorless, killer. See more Generator Safety Tips.
  • Don’t drive through flooded roads – “Turn Around, Don’t Drown!” Do not drive around road barriers. Roads and bridges may be washed out or structurally unsound.
  • Check your home for damage:
    • If your home or property is damaged, take photos or videos to document your damage, and contact your insurance company.
  • Clean and disinfect anything that got wet. Protect yourself during cleanup by wearing appropriate protective equipment such as gloves, safety glasses, and face masks.