Metro New Orleans

Hurricane Safety Tips

Here in the New Orleans area, hurricanes and tropical storms aren't anywhere near as frequent—or typically as destructive—as they are in Atlantic coastal areas like Florida. In fact, there's only an 11% chance of experiencing a hurricane impact in any given year, and according to NOAA, a hurricane makes impact landfall within 50 minutes of NOLA about once every seven to 11 years. It's also good to know that since the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the city has vastly improved not only its levee system, but its overall hurricane preparedness.

But while hurricanes aren't terribly frequent, it's always good to be prepared. Here are some of our top hurricane preparedness and safety tips.

Right Now

Take some time to review and prepare so you're ready for the hurricane long before it hits.

  • Have a plan—for you, your family, and your pets.
  • Know your evacuation routes, shelter locations, and safe spots within your home.
  • Prepare a disaster kit, including food and water for at least three days. Include a first-aid kit, a can opener, medications, batteries, flashlights, and protective clothing.
  • Sign up for warning systems like the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
  • Protect your property with good maintenance practices, like cleaning gutters, installing check valves in plumbing, using shatter-proof glass, repairing any leaks, and considering hurricane shutters.
  • Invest in a good flood insurance policy that protects your home and your belongings.

Before the Hurricane

Once a watch or warning has been issued, there are a few more steps to take to ensure you're really prepared.

  • Have a radio and extra batteries handy so you can stay up-to-date on storm news and evacuation notices. While you've got power, check city and county websites every 30 minutes to get the latest updates and emergency instructions.
  • Have a plan for how you'll stay in contact with family members or friends if the power goes out. Remember, during a disaster, texts are often more reliable than phone calls.
  • Board up windows and bring in or tie down outdoor objects like lawn furniture.
  • Keep cash handy in case banks or ATMs are closed after the storm.
  • Fill up your car and charge your cell phone.
  • Make sure your disaster kit is packed and contains any necessary medication or important documentation.
  • Turn your fridge or freezer to the coldest settings and open only when necessary.

If You're Asked to Evacuate

You may be asked to evacuate your home before a storm hits. It's crucial to take these orders seriously and leave as promptly as possible. Be sure you gather up all of your essentials, including important paperwork and your disaster kit, before you leave. You should also secure your home to prevent any damage.

Here are a few ways you can leave if you're asked to evacuate. If you can’t evacuate on your own, the City of New Orleans offers 17 pickup locations across the city.

By Car

During a mandatory evacuation, all lanes on major highways will lead out of the city. Expect travel times to be longer than usual.

By Plane

The New Orleans Metro Area is served by the Louis Armstrong International Airport, which is located in Kenner.

By Bus

There are seven Greyhound Bus Stations scattered throughout New Orleans, and tickets start as low as $5.

By Train

The Union Passenger Terminal is located in the heart of the city on Loyola Avenue.

During the Hurricane

Once the storm hits, make sure you're staying safe!

  • If told to evacuate, leave your home immediately. Do NOT drive around barricades.
  • Take shelter at a FEMA safe room, an ICC storm shelter, or a small, interior, windowless room or hallway on the lowest floor not subject to flooding.
  • If your home or building begins to flood, climb to the highest level of the structure with windows or openings.
  • Stay alert for new emergency news and information.
  • Avoid flood waters! Do not walk, swim, or drive through any water, as moving water can be deceptively powerful.

After the Hurricane

Once the storm ends, there are a few more precautions to take as life returns to normal.

  • Stay alert for additional instructions or information.
  • Wear protective clothing and be careful during cleanup. Do not touch electrical equipment if it is wet or you're standing in water.
  • Avoid wading in water, which may contain debris or underground or downed power lines.
  • Use text messages or social media to communicate with family or friends.
  • Document any property damages with photographs and contact your insurance company ASAP.

Additional Resources

Looking for more information on hurricane safety and preparedness? There are tons of resources out there—both New Orleans-specific and national resources.

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