Hurricanes & Floods

When meteorologists and emergency management officials mention the effects of hurricanes, most people bring to mind the recent images of devastation in the southern U.S.: the quartet of hurricanes that pounded Florida in 2004 (Charley, Dennis, Ivan, and Jeanne) and the complete destruction of the Gulf Coast due to Hurricane Katrina, pictures that will torment all who witnessed this horrific tragedy.

Local Effects
The extensive damage to the southern U.S. is always a threat. However, New Castle County (NCC) has experienced the impact of hurricanes and tropical storms through other forms of devastation that these storms deliver: high winds, torrential rains, and severe flooding. Most deaths due to such storms are flood-related.

Historical Disasters
From 2003 to 2004, for example, NCC was affected by three storm systems: Tropical Storm Henri (September 15, 2003), Tropical Storm Isabel (September 18, 2003) and Tropical Depression Jeanne (September 28, 2004). Tropical Storm Henri caused widespread damage to the community of Glenville spurring the largest housing purchase by state and county governments in Delaware's history due to storm damage: 171 homes were purchased just eight months after the storm struck. Tropical Depression Jeanne spawned the first tornado New Castle County had seen in 15 years, ripping trees from the ground and severely damaging residential and business structures. Jeanne also initiated a buyout of the Newkirk Estates and Glendale communities. All in all, state and county governments spent over $34 million in two years to rectify storm damage.

All three storms, Henri, Isabel, and Jeanne, were remnants of storms that had made landfall in the southern U.S. and traveled north to Delaware. The National Weather Service and the National Hurricane Center say the Mid-Atlantic Region (Virginia to New Jersey) is long overdue for a hurricane. Experts are again calling for an active hurricane season (a cycle which will last for the next 20 years).

Know What to Do
Knowing what to do is your best protection and your responsibility. Ensure the safety of your family from hurricanes by planning, preparing and staying informed.

  • Make arrangements to stay with an out-of-town friend or relative (at least 100 miles further inland), and make him/her the contact person in case your family members get separated. Be certain your family knows the name, address, and phone number of this contact person.
  • Be familiar with at least two ways from your residence to New Castle County's major roadways: state routes 1, 13, 40, and 202, and Interstate 95.
  • Identify kennels or veterinarians who are willing to care for your pets during severe weather conditions.
  • Check with your insurance agent about flood insurance. Most homeowner policies do not cover damages due to floods.
  • Learn how to safely shutoff your gas, electric, and water utilities by contacting your utility companies.
  • Know how to drain your hot water heater in case the water is needed for drinking.
  • Maintain a 72-hour supply of drinking water and non-perishable canned food in your home.
  • Assemble a disaster supplies kit:
    • A portable, battery-powered radio and extra batteries
    • Flashlight and extra batteries
    • First aid kit and manual
    • Supply of prescription medications
    • Credit card and cash
    • Personal ID
    • An extra set of car keys
    • Map of the area and phone numbers of your contact person
    • Special needs (i.e., baby items or spare eyeglasses)
  • Place valuable family documents in a safe deposit box or damage proof container.
Stay Informed
  • Listen to NOAA Weather Radio, which broadcasts watches and warnings from the National Weather Service, or access information via the National Hurricane Center website.
  • Monitor these radio stations for emergency information from fire, police, and emergency management agencies:
    • WSTW 93.7 FM
    • WDEL 1150 AM
    • WJBR 99.5 FM and 1290 AM
    • WILM 1450 AM
For additional information, or a speaker for your community meeting, call the Office of Emergency Management at 302-395-2700.