It only takes one bad storm to cause serious damage. One hurricane sounds like a calm hurricane season in the Atlantic, but one hurricane is enough to cause major devastation. One storm can obliterate hundreds of homes. One storm can displace thousands of families. One storm can reshape our Florida landscape. When you think about it like that, one storm is something to worry about. That is why you have to be prepared.

Hurricane season is June 1 through November 30. This year the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts a near-normal to below-normal Atlantic Hurricane Season. This implies 8 to 13 tropical storms, three hurricanes, with one or two that could strengthen to categories 3-5 hurricanes with winds over 111mph. Don’t underestimate this hurricane season, a "below-normal" season doesn’t mean a weak season. All it takes is one hurricane to cause widespread devastation.

It just takes one

Hurricane Andrew hit during a below normal hurricane season. This Hurricane had winds of 165mph and caused about $25-26.5 billion in damages in Florida alone, along with 44 hurricane-related deaths in Florida. In Dade County over 160,000 residents became homeless. The County Grand Jury released this statement, “The lack of adequate preparation by our community and our state was obvious. Even more obvious was the total lack of coordination that existed between the various disaster relief agencies after the hurricane had passed. No one was in charge. No one knew what to do. There was no plan. As a result, a large segment of our community that had been reduced to a 'third world' existence remained that way." The biggest disappointment was the lack of hurricane preparation.

Hope for the best, plan for the worst

Technology puts many resources at our fingertips, like the Security First Mobile app for Apple and Android devices. The Mobile app features Storm Center, which offers a Hurricane Preparedness checklist that you can use to check off all necessary supplies as you get them. It’s like a premade grocery list so you won’t forget any important supplies. There's other information like Hurricane Categories, so you can see each category and prepare for the type of damage that could occur. There is also a hurricane terms section so you know the difference between an advisory, a warning, or a watch. My favorite feature is the Hurricane Tracking, partnered with Google Crisis Response team, it tracks storms and provides up-to-date information directly to your mobile device. There are also emergency links and a Find a Mobile Recovery Unit feature for filing claims immediately when the damage occurs.

Family matters

One thing my family did was come up with a disaster plan. We had a family meeting and discussed what we should do if a hurricane were to come. We designated a “safe room,” my parents’ walk-in closet in the middle of the house with no windows, we gathered supplies, stocked up on water, and made plans for how to evacuate with our cat if we needed to. This preparation came in handy during the Hurricanes of 2004. I was only 14, but remember it to this day. When Hurricane Charley was headed for Florida (before making a last minute turn for the Carolinas) we decided to evacuate; it’s better to be safe than sorry. We packed quickly as the major threat approached. We waited in traffic for hours and hours. When we finally arrived in South Carolina, all of the pet-friendly hotels were booked. Lucky for us someone invited us to stay in a church. The church opened its doors to us, and our cat, and gave us a room of our own. Although we had family meetings and were prepared, it was still stressful and chaotic when the storm approached. If we hadn't been prepared, it would have taken a lot longer to leave and we could have been stuck on the road or in harm’s way when the storm hit.

Learn more about hurricane preparedness here.