Editorial: Are you prepared for Hurricane Florence?

Prepare for the worst, hope for the best. As Hurricane Florence increases in intensity and bears down on the East Coast, expected to make landfall Thursday evening or Friday morning near the Carolinas, its effects will be felt in Maryland and Carroll County.

Gov. Larry Hogan has already declared a state of emergency, and while it’s still too far out to know exactly how much rain the storm will bring, it’s never too early to get prepared for a significant weather event. Hogan noted the state is preparing “for the potential of historic, catastrophic and life-threatening flooding.”


Carroll, fortunately, is not in any of the flood zones identified by the Maryland Emergency Management Agency as likely to require evacuation in the event of a hurricane, most of which are along the coasts of the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean. However, we’ve seen in recent months that the county is certainly susceptible to significant flooding.

In addition to flooding, storms of this magnitude typically bring high winds, which can lead to widespread and sometimes lengthy power outages.

Even if Florence is downgraded by the time it makes landfall, it is likely to still bring heavy rain and winds to the region. Recall in 2013, Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee struck within a few days, with winds causing days of power outages and rainfall causing more than 40 roads to be closed for flooding. The following year, Superstorm Sandy brought more than 6 inches of rain and 60 mph winds to Carroll County.

Are you and your family prepared if a significant storm strikes?

If not, you still have time to do so. Every household should put together an emergency kit that includes at least a flashlight, portable radio with batteries and a three-day supply of water (a gallon per person, per day is recommended). Keeping other nonperishable items such as canned goods, dried fruits, crackers and other non-perishable foods around is also a good idea.

Other items to include are a first-aid kit, medications, personal hygiene items, a multipurpose tool like a Swiss army knife, cellphone chargers, extra cash, blankets, important documents and emergency contact information. If you’ve put together a disaster kit before, it’s a good idea to double check that the food is still OK to eat, that fresh batteries are available for the flashlight and radio (especially if they haven’t been used in a while) and that emergency documents reflect up-to-date contact information.

Make sure cellphones are fully charged prior to the storm and use them judiciously if you lose power. In case of an extended power outage, you’ll want to make sure you have battery life remaining in case of an emergency that requires calling for help.

Remember these common-sense safety tips as well during severe weather: When taking shelter during a hurricane or another storm with severe wind, go to the lowest floor possible and stay away from windows.

If you happen to be out and about during flooding, remember to never enter an area on foot or in your vehicle where water is flowing over a road and you cannot see pavement.

For more tips on how to prepare, copies of Carroll County’s “Are You Ready” guide are available online at and more information can also be found on Maryland Emergency Management Agency’s website. Hazard information is also available through the Prepare Me Carroll App.

Later this month, Carroll County Department of Public Safety will host an Emergency Preparedness Expo from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 22 at the County Office Building, 225 N. Center St., Westminster.