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A storm surge is an abnormally high-water level generated by a storm. Seawater is forcefully pushed by the storm toward the shore. In most cases, this results in coastal flooding. A storm surge can cause flooding even in normally dry areas, as shown by the big hurricanes that pummeled Texas and Florida in 2017.

A storm surge can occur quickly and unexpectedly, with no time for residents to prepare or evacuate. It is important that people living in coastal locations, particularly those that are hurricane-prone, be prepared for storm surges. Most warnings are given only 48 hours in advance, which is barely enough for coastal residents to gather their vital belongings and evacuate.

The most important preparation for a storm surge is to ensure the safety of your family members. Your house and property could be lost in a storm surge, but they can be rebuilt or replaced. You cannot replace lost lives.

The following tips could help you prepare for a possible storm surge:

  • Prepare or restock your emergency supply kit. Include the basic things your family will need when you evacuate. The kit should include water for all members of the family, non-perishable food to last at least five days per person, personal hygiene items, clothing, blankets, flashlights with batteries, maintenance medications, and important documents such as insurance policies and bank accounts.
  • Surround your house and yard with sandbags to mitigate the entry of floodwater to your property.
  • Check your house and yard for any threats of flooding. Board up the windows and doors, and lock up your home before you evacuate. Make sure that your belongings are secured and safe inside the house.

If you are ordered by authorities to evacuate, try to do so as quickly as possible. Even a delay of a few minutes could be detrimental.