Officials reminding you to gear up as Hurricane Preparedness Week starts

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - From flooded cars to flooded homes--we’re no strangers to the devastation of hurricanes across Hampton Roads.

This week is a reminder for you to get ready. It’s National Hurricane Preparedness week.

There one big question for people: Are you staying or are you going? How you plan during a hurricane should be based on that question.

If you’re planning to stay - make sure you have a disaster kit. What you need is pretty basic and shouldn’t cost you a lot.

Some items include water, a flashlight, food, plus your cellphone and charger.

With hurricane season just a few weeks away, officials say you need to start getting those items now.

“This is definitely the time to get in gear, to start working on it to start working on your plan,” Erin Sutton, the Emergency Manager for Virginia Beach’s Emergency Management Department, explained. “If you wait til the storm notification comes, to buy your generator or get water there’s gonna be a run on it. There’s gonna be challenges in getting it those supplies.”

If you’re leaving, know your evacuation zone. There are four of them: A, B, C and D.

The state has worked with the cities to change the zones allowing for smoother evacuations.

“One of the challenges we had with evacuations was over-evacuations. We know that the bridges and tunnels are going to be a challenge, so this really used a lot more science in identifying the evacuation zones, so the people that do have to go really do have to go. But not necessarily all the way to Roanoke. They can move into another evacuation zone," Sutton said.

Emergency Management officials said they’ve learned a lot of lessons from previous storms and are already doing training exercises on how they can better respond this season.

“We practice. Everyone sits at their desk. Everyone works through hurricane scenario and talks about how they would respond. Public Works working through debris management, human services working through sheltering operations and just do we have everything in line,” Sutton explained.

One of the big things Sutton stresses is for you to get flood insurance. She told us that the city has drainage and infrastructure challenges, so it floods easier.

During Hurricane Matthew, some homeowners were taken aback because they’d never experienced major flooding to their neighborhoods.

Sutton said the conditions are getting worse.

“Rain intensity has increased, we’re looking at a lot more storms that are coming through.  We had three storms back to back that added up to about 36 inches of rain and in any community 36 inches of rain is a lot.”

Hurricane season starts June 1.