• Hurricane Dorian: What do you do after the hurricane has passed?

    By: Debbie Lord , Cox Media Group National Content Desk

    Updated:

    Hurricane Dorian made landfall along North Carolina Friday, flooding homes on the state’s Outer Banks and trapping some people who live in low-lying areas.

    The Associated Press reports that state officials have sent medical personnel and first responders to Ocracoke Island — reachable only by boat or air — after receiving reports that residents were forced to their attics to avoid storm surge after defying mandatory evacuation orders.

    "There is significant concern about hundreds of people trapped on Ocracoke Island," Gov. Roy Cooper said. "There are rescue teams ready as soon as they can get in."

    While the storm has passed, there are still significant threats that residents along the southeast coast of the United States must be wary of.

    Below is a list of things you should keep in mind if you are in areas that have been hit hard by Dorian.

    What to do after the storm

    From FEMA, here are some tips for after the storm:

    • Listen to authorities for information and special instructions.
    • Be careful during clean-up. Wear protective clothing and work with someone else.
    • Do not touch electrical equipment if it is wet or if you are standing in water. If it is safe to do so, turn off electricity at the main breaker or fuse box to prevent electric shock.
    • Avoid wading in floodwater, which can contain dangerous debris. Underground or downed power lines can also electrically charge the water.
    • Save phone calls for emergencies. Phone systems are often down or busy after a disaster. Use text messages or social media to communicate with family and friends.
    • Document any property damage with photographs. Contact your insurance company for assistance.

    From the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH)

    • Remember that you may not have immediate access to your home. Emergency rescue crews, power crews and other personnel may be attending to special needs. Roads could be blocked, power lines could be down and people may be trapped and in need of assistance.  
    • Make sure that you have current identification. You may have to pass through identification checkpoints before being allowed access to your home/neighborhood.  
    • Avoid driving as roads may be blocked.
    • Avoid sight-seeing or entering a storm ravaged area unnecessarily. You could be mistaken for a looter.  
    • Avoid metal fences and other metal objects near downed lines.  
    • DO NOT use matches in a storm ravaged area until all gas lines are checked for leaks (keep flashlights and plenty of batteries at hand).   
    • Avoid turning the power on at your home if there is flooding present. Have a professional conduct a thorough inspection first.  
    • Consider having professionals/licensed contractors inspect your home for damage and help in repairs. This includes electricians, as well as professionals to inspect gas lines, remove uprooted trees and check plumbing.
    • Remember that downed or damaged trees can contain power lines that can be a hazard.  
    • Use a camera or camcorder to record thoroughly any damage done to your home before any repairs are attempted.  
    • In certain areas, the flooding rains that accompany a storm can create pest problems. Be aware of potential pest problems in your area, such as mice, rats, insects or snakes that may have "come with the storm".  
    • Flooding brings with it the risk of waterborne bacterial contaminations.
    • You should assume that the water is not safe and use properly stored water or boil your tap water.

    From the National Weather Service

    • If you evacuated, return home only when officials say it is safe.
    • Once home, drive only if necessary and avoid flooded roads and washed-out bridges. If you must go out, watch for fallen objects in the road, downed electrical wires, and weakened walls, bridges, roads, and sidewalks that might collapse.
    • Walk carefully around the outside of your home to check for loose power lines, gas leaks, and structural damage.
    • Stay out of any building if you smell gas, if floodwaters remain around the building,  if the building or home was damaged by fire, or if the authorities have not declared it safe.
    • Carbon monoxide poisoning is one of the leading causes of death after storms in areas dealing with power outages. Never use a portable generator inside your home or garage. Review generator safety.
    • Use battery-powered flashlights. Do NOT use candles. Turn on your flashlight before entering a vacated building. The battery could produce a spark that could ignite leaking gas if present.

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