Five tips on preparing for superstorms

When Cyclone Phailin touched down in eastern India over the weekend, thousands of lives were saved thanks to the country’s disaster preparedness initiatives. Xylem’s extensive experience with storms and flooding, from Buenos Aires to the Atlantic coast, has shown that careful planning and rapid response can make all the difference.

By Isabelle Kliger

Hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons are among the world’s most devastating natural disasters. With wind speeds of more than 74 miles/hour or 119 kilometers/hour, these superstorms have the capacity to cause extensive damage and loss of life, particularly due to the ocean storm surges and floods that follow in their wake.

When it comes to managing flood risk, there is no substitute for effective urban planning and community engagement. However, companies such as Xylem can also contribute with new approaches and expertise to help anticipate and address the complex realities of urban flooding.

Last fall, for example, as Hurricane Sandy approached the Atlantic coast, disaster management experts were able to track its impact from field monitoring stations equipped with Xylem’s sensor instruments. During the storm, they watched the instrument readings closely to measure the impact of the storm on water levels in low-lying populated areas.

In the immediate aftermath of the hurricane, Xylem delivered more than 500 dewatering pumps to municipalities and industrial sites in affected areas. This was possible as a result of the efforts of Xylem’s employees in the days leading up to the storm. They gathered hundreds of powerful Godwin brand dewatering pumps from across the country and positioned them in Xylem branches and distribution sites near the hurricane’s projected path.

Based on experiences like these, Xylem has put together a few tips on how people and businesses can prepare for storms:

1. Secure lines of communication if traditional channels, such as electricity, cell service and internet, are not available. This can be done by investing in satellite phones or battery-powered walkie-talkies.

2. Identify potential points of failure and carry out the necessary maintenance in good time. Is your weakest link a major pump station, or is it as simple as the condition of your drains and gutters?

3. Rent a reasonably sized fuel tank (around 500 gallons) and keep it filled.

4. Check your insurance for wind, storm and flood coverage to make sure there are no unwelcome surprises.

5. Stock up on supplies and equipment. This includes everything from backup generators to batteries, matches, car chargers and drinking water.

For more tips on how to prepare for a hurricane, read Godwin’s Hurricane Preparedness Tips.

To learn more about how Xylem helps communities manage flood risk, with real-life examples, read its new report on Water and Urban Resilience.

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