The U.S. Eastern Seaboard is getting slammed this week with double disasters. A 5.8 magnitude quake centered in Virginia shook the earth from Georgia to Canada on Tuesday, and Hurricane Irene is pelting the Bahamas with a triptych that takes the storm right along the U.S. coastline.
Even if Irene never makes landfall in the U.S., a powerful hurricane off shore -- even hundreds of miles off shore -- will have an impact on coastal communities. Hurricanes are often hundreds of miles across, so if the eye of the storm is 150 miles out to see, coastal areas could still get battered by high winds, drenched by rain, and flooded from storm surge.
If you live on the East Coast of the United States, I urge you to make sure you have bottled water and non-perishable food in your home in case of power outages. Check your first aid kit and make sure it's stocked with the essentials. Know where your insurance papers are. Pick up extra batteries for your radio and flashlights. Be aware if you're in a flood zone. Prepare your home by securing lawn furniture and moving anything inside that could become a missile in high winds. If advised, protect your windows with shutters, aluminum roofing sheets or plywood.
Watch the storm's progress on TV or use the National Hurricane Center website. Pay attention to any local advisories. Be safe.
The National Hurricane Center is watching two more areas of disturbed weather right behind Irene.