Category Archives: Hurricane

Home Inspections – Good Idea

Having a home inspection every few years is a great idea and can save a homeowner a lot of money and headaches, says Jason R. Hanson, president of Primo Coach, LLC, based in the metropolitan Washington, DC area.

Hanson adds that finding a “qualified” home inspector is tricky. “There are organizations out there such as The National Association of Certified Home Inspectors and The American Society of Home Inspectors that are reputable but others only require that you take a class and pay a fee to be a ‘home inspector’.”

In a nutshell, inspect your home and your home inspector.

Good tip!


Leave Your House in 3 Minutes – What to Take?

If you were forced to evacuate your home and you only had 3 minutes, what would you grab?

The Grab-and-Go kit came about after readers sent us what they wished they’d had after they had to evacuate. Here are 10 things you should have ready to go at any moment.

  1. Cash (at least $100 – ATMs might not work in an emergency), credit cards, checks, IDs
  2. Cell phone and extra charger
  3. Clothing for each family member for a week (grab extra items for winter)
  4. Extra set of house and car keys
  5. Family heirlooms, jewelry, art, anything else that has sentimental value and is “irreplaceable”
  6. Home videos and photos, digital camera memory cards
  7. Important papers (i.e. birth certificates, insurance policies, marriage certificates, house deeds, passports, address book
  8. Medications and other special needs (enough for a week or two)


  1. Put these items in a backpack, duffle, plastic container, etc.
  2. Make sure it is sturdy and possibly water-proof in case of flooding or other water damage (i.e. water from fire hoses).
  3. Tell your family members about the location and importance of this kit and when to grab it!

Remember to update your kit or check on its  location at least once a month.

National Social Workers Month

Social workers help you with any psychological and social needs in a stressful situation.

It’s a broad definition, but the field is broad. You’ll find social workers in hospitals, senior living homes, government organizations, and community services.

Here’s an article talking about what services social workers offer for seniors and hospice care.

And, another good article describing how social workers may help you after a fire or natural disaster.

– Susan

FEMA and WHN Offer Sound Advice about Surviving a Disaster

Tornado season is in full swing for parts of the country. Other natural disasters have been reported throughout the nation. Being prepared can make the difference between safely weathering the storm and becoming a victim of the disaster!

  • WHN TIP: Click here for a comprehensive list of natural disasters, preparedness, survival and rebuilding provided by FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency. If you find this site challenging to navigate, visit the Natural Disasters section right here on the WHN website for advice, helpful links and forms to complete.

If you don’t already have a weather alert radio, this would be the perfect time to purchase one.  You can do a simple Google search for “weather alert radios” options and detailed explanations about the different types. You can also try a consumer search site for reviews and ratings of different models.

A good friend of a WHN reporter experienced a tornado firsthand during Memorial Day weekend in 2008. She was home alone in Hugo, MN when the EF-3 tornado with wind gusts of 136 to 165 mph hit the city. The tornado struck at about 5:30 p.m. on the Sunday of Memorial weekend, May 25, 2008 and tore a mile-long swath through a residential area. About 675 homes were damaged and 60 of those were deemed uninhabitable. (One 2-year-old child was killed. His sister, just five years old, was severely injured and still requires a wheelchair a year later.)

Our friend was in a townhouse complex with seven units, none of which have basements. She didn’t have a weather radio or a concrete plan outlining the best course of action. Luckily, when she noticed that the water in the toilet was splashing wildly, her first instinct was to get to the lower level and into a secure corner. The combined weight of the attached homes helped anchor them against the tremendous force of the winds. Her recount of the experience included the usual “it sounded like a freight train” and “I could hear deafening sounds of buildings being destroyed”.

After the storm had passed, she surveyed the damage to her home. Baseball-sized hail had crushed the master bedroom window and the floor was covered with huge ice chunks. Siding blew off some of the units, but the townhouses suffered little more than window and outside damage, even though nearby blocks were all but destroyed.

She used her cell phone to keep in touch with her parents in another city during the storm, but had to hang up during the worst of it due to the extraordinary amount of noise. She didn’t sustain any injuries.

Due to the holiday weekend, many families were away. This twist of fate proved to be a major factor in reducing the number of injuries and fatalities.

A year after the disaster, according to Hugo city officials, two of the ruined homes still have damage and three or four lots remain vacant and are on the market. The rest of the homes have been restored.

  • WHN TIP: Officials in cities with siren warning systems often remind residents that the sirens may not be audible inside a dwelling. Advisories may be broadcast many hours before a storm and should be your first warning to go through your survival plan. Conducting drills with your family is a great way to ensure everyone knows what to do in the event of a storm, especially if it arrives with little or no warning.

Review your plan while the weather is beautiful.  Your time will be well spent!

If you have questions or would like to share your experiences, please email me: Leann (at)

Why People Don’t Heed Severe Weather Warnings

Find Shelter Now
Find Shelter Now

This is interesting- NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) released information on why some people take cover during severe weather, and others opt to ‘ride it out’ and not take cover.

Their report looked at Super Tuesday (Feb. 5-6, 2008) where 82 tornadoes ripped through nine Southern states, killing 57, injuring 350 and causing $400 million in property damage.

Interestingly – the report found that 2/3rds of the victims were in mobile homes and 60% didn’t have access to shelter like a basement or storm cellar. We’ve got a mobile home prep article here.  If you know someone who lives in a mobile home, be sure to pass this on to them.

The report also said that on this Super Tuesday, many people didn’t think the tornado threat was bad (it was February, not a month known for storms…) so they didn’t take cover.  And then there’s what experts call the optimism bias, which is the belief that bad things only happen to other people.

Read all of NOAA’s Service Assessment reports here.

Real Life Story: Surviving a Hurricane

It’s National Hurricane Preparedness Week and we’ve pulled together the best of the best advice from experts and readers to help you get ready (it’s helpful for all disasters not just hurricanes)!

The most amazing pieces of advice came from Dean Trevelino, who survived Hurricane Ivan and Jeanne. Here’s his story:

My wife, son (who was four at the time) and I were in our home in Atlanta, a mid-century modern, one-level classic modern ranch, written up in Atlanta in the 50s as the first all plywood home in the city … sensible modern they called it. Hurricane Ivan was the fourth in a series of hurricanes that year that ultimately raised the levels of the creeks so high that the neighboring creek rose and consumed our entire property.

We were in the home when the water rose around us. Within minutes our pool was lost to muddy, sewage-ridden black water; then it was in the home and rising quickly. I can still see my son on the bed as the water rose around him. I grabbed my son, wife and laptops, opened the front door to what appeared to be a rush of the nastiest water we had ever seen, making its way into our perfectly white modern home.

We left two cars in the garage including a 57 Speedster. I took my family to a nearby hotel and came back to try to salvage the cars. By that time, the home was completely engulfed by three feet and eventually four feet of water. The fire department would not let us in to retrieve anything.

Keep reading and learned how Dean recovered from the storm…

Related Articles 

Your Office “To-Go” Kit


I spend most of my week at work so chances are I’d be more likely to experience a disaster or emergency here than anywhere else!From severe storms to power outages, a number of things could happen while on the job. Here’s how you can get ready:

1. Review your company’s evacuation policies and emergency exit routes.

2. Find a backpack or something small to keep under your desk that you can grab in a hurry.

3. Add top survival items to the kit – flashlight, food, water, etc. (for a recommended list click here).

Want more? Top work preparedness advice from experts…

Already have a work “to-go” kit? What do you have in it? Share in the Comments section below!

Watching the Weather

We’re here in Minneapolis watching a gorgeous day slowly change into a stormy one.

So how do you know when it’s time to make a severe weather plan or move to a safe room? Here are some tips from meteorologists and storm chasers:

1. Know the official signs:

  • A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH tells you when and where severe thunderstorms are more likely to occur.
  • A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING is issued when severe weather has been reported by spotters or indicated by radar. Warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property to those in the path of the storm. Also listen for Tornado Watch or Warning and Flash Flood Watch or Warning.
  • Listen for tornado sirens — remember you may not be able to hear them or they might not be sounded in time.
  • Turn on your weather radio or tune into your local TV stations for updates.

2. Watch for changing weather conditions, especially for tornadoes. The sky may turn very dark (like night) or have a dark green tinge. Blowing debris or the sound of an approaching tornado may alert you; people who have lived through it say that an approaching tornado sounds like a freight train.

3. While a thunderstorm might seem common (especially this time of year), remember that all thunderstorms are dangerous. Head indoors as soon as you see lightning or hear that first clap of thunder.

4. Head to a safe place. If severe weather is imminent or a tornado is on its way, head to an interior room with no windows. Bring flashlights, your weather radio, food and water.

5. Want more? Get ready for emergencies with our get ready month series we published last year here on the blog.

Have a severe weather tip or story? Share in the Comments section below!