Hurricanes: How to Prepare and Why They’re Getting More Dangerous

A satellite image of discharge into the ocean following Hurricane Florence.
A satellite image of discharge into the ocean following Hurricane Florence.

As the state prepares for Hurricane Dorian to bring heavy winds and significant rains to the coast and eastern North Carolina, Duke faculty members are explaining what they’re looking out for this season, and what steps you should do to be prepared.

Starting Off: Hurricane Season Is Different Now

At the recent “Coming Storm” conference, Stanback Dean Toddi Steelman of the Nichoas School had a message: Global warming is creating stronger storms, and we’re not prepared for them.

“We need to get better at anticipatory planning — anticipating what’s to come,” Steelman said. “Our data all look backwards for the most part. We plan based on historical trends, not on what the future has in store for us. So how many years in a row have we witnessed an event that happens in a 100-year flood plain? What we really need to be thinking about are 500-year floodplains and 1000-year floodplains.”

There’s also a little recognized factor in the damage done by hurricanes. Low income people suffer more serious consequences.

“Disasters are equal in that they do affect everyone but they also discriminate. We know that those who are most vulnerable – the poor, the disenfranchised, the disabled and the elderly –suffer the greatest in these events. And they continue to suffer long after those of us with more resources have been able to recover.”

/Public Release. View in full here.