Attorney General Josh Stein
Hurricane season is here again – and while we’re thrilled with the season the Carolina Hurricanes have been having, we can all do without any tropical storms or hurricanes that may reach North Carolina this year. Unfortunately, experts are already predicting another above-average hurricane season. You can’t wait until a hurricane is imminent to begin preparing, though. Here are some things you should be thinking about now.
First, do you have an emergency plan? It may need to be different than last year’s, when social distancing and pandemic concerns required other measures to keep people safe. Make sure you know the best evacuation routes from your home and have a plan about where you’ll go if a hurricane hits.
Take the time now to build an emergency kit that has items you’ll need. Don’t forget to include medications, non-perishable food, water, a change of clothes, and anything else you may need. We’re still in a pandemic, so packing extra hand sanitizer and masks may be helpful. If you have pets, don’t forget to include items they’ll need as well. Run through both your kit and your plan with your family, so they’re prepared for what may happen in a natural disaster emergency.
You should also make copies of important documents for your disaster kit. Make sure you have copies of your insurance policies, driver’s license, Social Security card, health insurance card, and other financial information on hand. If a disaster hits, you don’t want to worry about not having the information you need to be able to contact the appropriate authorities and rebuild. And while you’re making copies, you may want to store an extra set in your bank’s safety deposit box for safekeeping. Take billing information you need, too – creditors still expect on-time payments and being late will cause you additional headaches.
Make a list of important phone numbers – for friends and family, the bank, and insurance companies – and consider storing copies in your kit and your wallet. Include the phone number for my office’s Consumer Protection Division (1-877-5-NO-SCAM). Unfortunately, disasters often bring scammers out of the woodwork, and if you encounter any, you can report them to my office.
Take inventory of your home, property, and cars through photos and videos. If you suffer property or car damage and need to file an insurance claim, you’ll be able to do so with an accurate idea of the damage.
If a hurricane hits and the governor declares a state of emergency, our state’s price gouging law will go into effect. The law makes it illegal to charge extra high prices during a crisis, and you should report instances of price gouging to my office. Since 2018, I’ve won more than $975,000 in price gouging judgments and settlements on behalf of the people of North Carolina, and I will never hesitate to go after price gougers.
You can check out readync.org for more disaster preparedness information. The more you do to prepare for a disaster before it hits, the better you’ll be able to respond if the worst happens.