For many coastal residents of the U.S., 2021 brought a destructive hurricane season. Communities from Rhode Island to Florida and Louisiana endured power outages, halted transportation services and inaccessible civic and public resources—all during an intensifying wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In August, Hurricane Ida hit Louisiana as a Category 4 hurricane—exactly 16 years after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the state’s largest city. Ida destroyed entire buildings in Port Fourchon, a key Gulf of Mexico oil port responsible for 18% of the U.S.' oil supply. The storm also affected critical infrastructure such as wireless networks and power grids, despite being one of the best-predicted storms in U.S. history.
The role of real-time information in hurricane response
While extreme weather events don’t always unfold predictably, the people and organizations responsible for monitoring and responding to hurricanes can rely on real-time information to alert them to the impact of storms at the local level.
Products like Dataminr’s First Alert can cross-correlate official weather statements and sensor data with eyewitness accounts to provide a clear understanding of extreme weather events as they unfold. This can make the difference between a timely, coordinated emergency response and a delayed, misguided reaction to a potentially devastating event.
First Alert empowers first responders to remain informed of the impact of storms as they progress—be it over the course of hours, days or weeks. This enables teams to connect impacted communities to rescuers, local governments and their communities more broadly, during and after the storm.
You can also study seasonal analyses of the climate conditions that lead to storms—including sea surface temperatures and sea levels—to understand when storms are most likely to occur and how their severity should inform your response strategy.
5-step hurricane preparedness checklist
Here are five practical steps you can take to mitigate the impact of a hurricane on your organization and the communities you serve:
Identify risks proactively.
With access to real-time breaking news alerts, you can gain an early line of sight into major storms and respond more quickly and efficiently.
Secure critical infrastructure.
By studying historical landfall patterns and integrating breaking news alerts into your workflow, you can connect the dots faster and develop response plans to protect the most at-risk buildings, utilities and public spaces.
Create an emergency response plan.
Develop resources and protocols, including historical flood maps and evacuation plans, and document them clearly. Where possible, run emergency response drills to ensure the communities you serve know what to do during a storm.
Communicate with key stakeholders early and often.
Ensuring each stakeholder has access to reliable real-time information can hasten your response and ensure it’s strategic. Establish open lines of communication between partners at the federal, state and local levels, as well as between and across relevant departments, and maintain them during and after the storm.
Keep your people and your data safe.
If your agency is operating in an at-risk area, organizational continuity is key. Ensure your data is backed up and stored in a safe, reliable facility, and empower your staff to work off site by developing a process for securely transitioning to remote work. Implement technology tools and policies that will make the switch seamless.
With the right information and a thoughtful, proactive response strategy, you can mitigate the impacts of even the most destructive storms. Leveraging real-time breaking news alerts will enable you to address infrastructure issues and local service disruptions quickly and more strategically while strengthening your search and rescue efforts.