People often neglect to consider the security of their water supply prior to a hurricane, there are many other pressing needs for preparation, namely protection of property. Because this week is National Hurricane Preparedness Week I wanted to discuss how hurricanes can disrupt water systems and water supplies. Water security is essential when talking about hurricanes. Actions taken before the hurricane, during and after the hurricane all play a significant part in maintaining your access to clean, safe drinking water.
First a note on evacuations. I’m not going to tell people to stay or go when it comes to evacuating. Make that decision for yourself.
What can be done before a hurricane hits? If you are on a well, make sure your well is sealed properly. This is normal well maintenance. Your annual maintenance and inspections are your first defense against well contamination. With a hurricane the main culprit is the rain and the storm surge. Surface water contamination with bacteria, chemicals and salt can make your well very unfit to drink. Prevention through proper maintenance is the best barrier against contamination. If you are on a municipal water system, shut off the water to your house before you evacuate. This will prevent leaks and the subsequent damage from the water entering your house. It will obviously not protect you from rain/wind/flood/storm surge damage. Also, it is a good idea to temporarily cap the connection from your house to the sewer or septic system, this will prevent overloaded waste systems back flowing into your house. These precautions need to be done whether you bug out or not. This is the time to store water. When the water coming into your house is clean and drinkable. Store as much as you can, it could be the difference between life and death.