In many parts of the country, June signals flowers blooming and school books closing. But for residents of the North Atlantic region, June 1 marks the first day of hurricane season. In its Facts for Figures release, the U.S. Census Bureau highlights the following statistics:
- Using July 2008 population figures, approximately 35.7 million people – or 12 percent of the U.S. residents – live in the coastal areas of states stretching from North Carolina to Texas, areas most threatened by Atlantic hurricanes.
- Three of the nation’s 20 most populous metro areas were within Atlantic or Gulf coastal areas between Texas and North Carolina. These include: Houston-Sugarland-Baytown, Texas (sixth); Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, Florida (seventh); and Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Florida (20th).
- Eight hurricanes struck during the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season. Five of these were Category 3 strength or higher, according to the National Hurricane Center.
- The population of New Orleans, Louisiana on July 1, 2005 (about two months before Hurricane Katrina struck) was estimated at around 455,000 residents. Three years later, on July 1, 2008, New Orleans’ population was estimated at roughly 312,000 residents.
Preparedness Key to Survival
While nobody likes to think of a worst-case scenario, having a plan in place can help residents who are at risk of having a hurricane strike close to home.
The National Hurricane Center – which provides news, forecasts, weather alerts, and more – advises residents who live in areas with potential hurricane risk to be able to answer three questions:
- 1. What are hurricane hazards?
- 2. What do those risks mean to you?
- 3. What actions can you take to be prepared?
In the Hurricane portion of its web site, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) explains what residents should do before, during and after a hurricane, as well as how to mitigate the impact of a hurricane or tropical storm.
The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services provides health, sanitation, food and water safety advice for residents in hurricane-affected areas in its Hurricane Preparedness Tips Fact Sheet.