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Preparing a Hurricane Kit: Supplies You Should Stock This Season

Photo: Nature.com

Hurricane season has officially begun, and forecasters are anticipating a significant amount of storm activity during the 2018 season in the Atlantic Ocean, which runs from June 1 through Nov. 30. According to Weather.com, 13 named storms are projected for this season, in addition to Tropical Storm Alberta, which formed in May before the season had officially begun and made landfall near Laguna Beach, Florida.

Photo: Pinterest

Of the 13 storms projected to develop into named storms in 2018, six are expected to attain hurricane strength—and two are expected to become major hurricanes, reaching an intensity of Category 3 or higher. When it comes to tropical storms and hurricanes, it’s always better to be safe than sorry, and there’s no better time than the present to go over your hurricane preparation checklist and make sure your hurricane kit is well-stocked and ready to go should a storm strike where you live this season.

 

Photo: Stephanie Banfield

Unlike storms such as tornados—which tend to strike without much, if any, warning—hurricanes typically develop slowly over a period of several days as they strengthen from a tropical disturbance to a tropical depression to a tropical storm to a hurricane of varying intensities. But just because a storm is still hundreds of miles off the coastline and its path is not projected to affect you for a few more days doesn’t mean you should kick back and relax while you wait to figure out exactly where it’s going to hit.

Photo: RVA News

Storms can intensify rapidly—sometimes going from a tropical system to a strong hurricane in a matter of only a few hours—and their course can change drastically depending on factors ranging from ocean water temperatures to land masses they encounter along the way. To ensure you’re properly prepared to ride out a storm that hits your area and to care for yourself, your family and your pets for several days if roads become inaccessible and facilities remain closed, it’s imperative to build your hurricane kit in advance and to stock up on supplies well ahead of time. According to Ready.gov, at the minimum, your hurricane kit should include the following basic items:

  • Water (1 gallon of water per person per day for at least 3 days, for drinking and sanitation purposes)
  • Food (3-day supply of nonperishable food per person/pet)
  • Medications (1-week supply of prescription medications per person/pet)
  • Battery-powered radio and extra batteries
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Manual can opener for food items
  • Wrench and/or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Trash bags, plastic ties and moist towelettes for personal sanitation
  • Local maps
  • Dust mask to filter contaminated air
  • Plastic sheeting and duct tape (to cover holes in walls and the roof and protect you from the elements as you shelter in place)
  • Cell phone with charger (and an extra battery pack/portable power bank that is fully charged)
  • Whistle (to signal that you need assistance in the event that you need to be rescued)
Photo: WTVR

Remember that many people residing in coastal regions will wait until a storm is projected to make landfall before they head to the store to grab supplies. Stock your hurricane kit with supplies in advance to avoid running the risk of stores running out of necessary supplies—and to avoid the chaos that comes with trying to gather everything you need at the last minute along with everyone else in town. With the 2018 hurricane season in full swing, it’s more important than ever to keep a watchful eye on the weather, and when you discover that a storm is forecast to hit your area, you can rest assured in knowing that your hurricane kit is fully stocked and you are well-prepared to protect yourself and your loved ones when its wind and waves collide with the coastline.

Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge: Exploring the Inner OBX

Photo: Streaming Through America

The Outer Banks of North Carolina are undoubtedly best-known for the miles and miles of barrier island beaches that comprise the state’s coastline from Carova to Ocracoke Island. But wide expanses of unspoiled shoreline, world-class watersports, first-rate seafood and opportunities for top-notch offshore fishing are not all the area has to offer. Among the many hidden gems that can be found by visitors who scour the Outer Banks in search of attractions located off the beaten path is the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge.    

Photo: Inner Banks Inn

All too often overlooked by vacationers heading to the coast for a week of fun in the sun and surf, the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge consists of 152,000 acres of preserve land filled with nature trails, walking paths, picnic areas, fishing spots, hunting tracts, paddling trails and dozens of species of wildlife. And if the route from your hometown to the bustling beaches takes you along Highway 64 through the towns of East Lake and Manns Harbor, you’ve traveled right past the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge—and probably didn’t even know it. Whether you’ve got time to fill before your beach vacation officially begins this year or you’re up for a little bit of outdoor adventure that doesn’t involve the surf and sand, be sure to make a point of exploring this incredibly unique natural area this season.   

Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Located on the North Carolina mainland, just 22 miles from Nags Head, the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge spans 28 miles from north to south and 15 miles from east to west. Despite its close proximity to the popular vacation destination that lies less than a half-hour away, the land on which the majority of the refuge sits never attracted development like the nearby barrier islands that became a bustling tourist hotspot beginning in the 1950s. In fact, the site of the present-day nature preserve remained so desolate and undeveloped that in 1959 the U.S. Air Force sectioned off a 47,000-acre parcel of land in its center and established a military bombing range that is still in use today.

Photo: Paddling.com

Toward the end of the 1970s, conservationists who visited the region discovered that the tens of thousands of acres of seemingly uninhabited land were actually home to an assortment of species—many of which were threatened or endangered. Bordered by its namesake, the Alligator River, to the west and the Pamlico Sound to the east, the preserve encompasses a variety of habitats, including maritime forests, wetlands, saltmarshes and several types of swamps. The most unusual habitat here, however, is known as a “pocosin.” A unique type of wetland habitat whose name comes from a Native American term that translates to “swamp of a hill,” pocosins are characterized by deep, acidic, sandy peat soils that are high in organic material and frequently retain large amounts of water.

Photo: DefendersBlog.com

In an effort to preserve the many unique habitats found within its borders, and to protect the wide array of wildlife that reside among them, the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge was officially established on March 14, 1984. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the various habitats that constitute the wildlife refuge currently support 145 species of birds, 48 species of fish, 48 species of reptiles and amphibians, and 40 species of mammals.

Photo: Carolyn E. Wright

Although the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge is home to a wide array of species ranging from woodpeckers, white-tailed deer and raptors to black bears, owls and, of course, alligators, its most famous residents are also some of the most endangered: red wolves. Once abundant throughout the southeastern United States—with populations found roaming as far west as Texas, as far north as Pennsylvania and as far south as Florida—today the red wolf is one of the most endangered species in the world, and they can be found only in a five-county area of eastern North Carolina.

Photo: OuterBanksThisWeek.com

According to Defenders of Wildlife, red wolves—which are the smaller, thinner cousins of the gray wolf—had been hunted to the brink of extinction by the end of the 1970s. Determined to save the endangered species from imminent extinction, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service captured fewer than 20 red wolves to be bred in captivity as part of a red wolf recovery program.

Photo: Pinterest

Seven years later, the organization reintroduced red wolves to the wild, but due to a slew of misconceptions about the species, numerous political attacks and insufficient planning, the recovery attempt was ultimately unsuccessful, and red wolf populations continued to decline toward extinction once again. Today, red wolves only exist in the wild in two places in the entire world: Columbia, North Carolina’s Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge and the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge.

Photo: Fickr Foxes

In addition to its miles of picturesque hiking paths, paddling trails, fishing spots and hunting areas, the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge also offers an assortment of recreational and education programs, including a Red Wolf Howling Safari. Visitors who attend this one-of-a-kind safari will learn about the plight of the red wolf and take a guided journey into the heart of the preserve with refuge staff and volunteers to listen to the howls of this rare and endangered species that calls coastal North Carolina home.   

 

 

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