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October 2012: Hurricane Sandy and Emergency Preparedness

On Monday October 29, 2012 a Cat 1 (80 mph 1-minute) hurricane made landfall in Atlantic City, NJ. The storm had a very broad windfield with a 1,000 mile diameter of tropical storm force winds.

Preliminary estimates are that there will be $10M - $20M in insured losses and $30M to $50M in economic losses.

There were surge heights of 14 feet in lower Manhattan and 9 feet at Atlantic City. Rainfall amounts were low and mostly less than 1 inch. There was not much inland flooding.

To aid in preventing property damage losses in the future, we have provided some Emergency Preparedness plans for Windstorm.

Studies of severe windstorms show conclusively that most windstorm-related damage can be prevented or, at least, minimized. The keys to success are planning and organized action before, during and after a storm. Tropical storms are caused by severe low pressure systems, and they are called different names depending on the part of the world where they occur. In the United States these storms are called hurricanes or windstorms. The season for these storms runs from June 1 to November 30 in the northern hemisphere.

If you don't have a plan, you need to develop one right away. The checklist below suggests steps that you can take to minimize windstorm related damage to your facility.

Pre-Planning

The Emergency Action Plan should:

Impending storm

For most windstorms, weather services give an advance warning to areas likely to be in the path of the storm. In the United States, a hurricane watch is issued by the National Weather Service when winds of 74 mph (120 km/hr) or greater pose a possible threat within 36 hours. A hurricane warning means that hurricane conditions are expected in 24 hours.

Use advance warning to begin taking action consistent with your Emergency Plan.

During the storm

Emergency response personnel should stay at the facility only if safe to do so.

After the storm

HURRICANE AND CYCLONE CATEGORIES

Category
Wind Speed

Hurricane

Cyclone

(differs from country to country)

1

74 to 95 mph

(120 to 153 km/h)

Less than 78 mph

(125 km/h)

2

96 to 110 mph

(154 to 177 km/h)

78 to 106 mph

(125 to 170 km/h)

3

111 to 130 mph

(179 to 209 km/h)

107 to 140 mph

(171 to 225 km/h)

4

131 to 155 mph

(211 to 249 km/h)

141 to 174 mph

(226 to 280 km/h)

5

greater than 155 mph

(249 km/h)

greater than 174 mph

(280 km/h)

The following category descriptions are based on hurricane wind speeds; correlation based upon wind speed can be made to cyclones.

CATEGORY 1
Possible storm surge 4 to 5 ft (1.2 to 1.5 m) above normal. Damage primarily to foliage and unanchored buildings. Some damage to poorly constructed signs. Low-lying coastal roads inundated, minor pier damage, some small craft torn from moorings.

CATEGORY 2
Storm surge of 6 to 8 ft. (1.8 to 2.4 m) above normal. Considerable damage to foliage, some trees blown down. Major damage to mobile homes. Extensive damage to poorly constructed signs. Some damage to roofing materials on buildings. Coastal roads and low-lying escape routes inland cut by rising water 2 to 4 hours before arrival of windstorm center. Considerable damage to piers, marinas flooded. Small craft torn from moorings. Mandatory evacuation of shoreline residences and low-lying islands.

CATEGORY 3
Possible storm surge 9 to 12 ft. (2.7 to 3.6 m) above normal. Limbs torn from trees and large trees blown down. Most poorly constructed signs blown down. Damage to roofing materials on buildings, some window and door damage. Mobile homes destroyed. Serious coastal flooding and many smaller coastal structures destroyed. Larger coastal structures damaged by battering waves and floating debris. Low-lying escape routes inland cut by rising water 3 to 5 hours before windstorm center arrives. Flat terrain 5 ft. (1.5 m) or less above sea level flooded inland 8 miles (13 km) or more. Possible mandatory evacuation of low-lying residences within several blocks of shoreline.

CATEGORY 4
Storm surge 13 to 18 ft. (4 to 5.5 m) above normal. Flat terrain 10 ft. (3 m) or less above sea level flooded inland as far as 6 miles (9.6 km). Shrubs, trees and all signs blown down. Extensive damage to inadequately installed roofing materials, windows and doors. Complete failure of roofs on many small residences. Complete destruction of mobile homes. Major damage to lower floors of coastal structures due to flooding and battering of waves and floating devices. Low-lying escape routes inland cut by rising water 3 to 5 hours before windstorm center arrives. Major beach erosion. Massive mandatory evacuation of all residences within 500 yards (457 m) of shore, and single-story residences on low ground within 2 miles (3.2 km) of shore.

CATEGORY 5
Storm surge greater than 18 ft. (5.5 m) above normal. Shrubs, trees and all signs blown down, considerable damage to roofs of buildings. Very severe and extensive damage to windows and doors. Complete failure of roofs of many residences and inadequately designed industrial buildings. Extensive shattering of glass in windows and doors. Some complete building failures, small buildings overturned or blown away. Complete destruction of mobile homes. Major damage to lower floors of all structures less than 15 ft. (4.6 m) above sea level within 500 yards (457 m) of shore. Low-lying escape routes inland cut off by rising water 3 to 5 hours before windstorm center arrives. Massive mandatory evacuation of residential areas on low ground within 5 to 10 miles (8 to 16 km) of shore.

If you would like further information regarding Windstorm Protection or Emergency Preparedness plans, please contact Risk Logic Inc.