It's National Hurricane Preparedness Week, and the American Red Cross is reminding folks to prepare now. Hurricane season begins June 1 and ends November 30.Last August, Irene claimed New Jersey lives, while causing millions of dollars in damage and putting homes underwater for weeks. Irene was later classified as only a tropical storm.

"I think the damage and destruction could have been a lot worse," said Diane Concannon, Chief Communications Officer for the American Red Cross - North Jersey Region.

She added, "It's just very important that people be prepared; it just helps ease the stress when we know a disaster is imminent."

The Red Cross offered steps to get ready for hurricane season:

  • Build an emergency kit with a gallon of water per person, per day, non-perishable food, a flashlight, battery-powered radio, first aid kit, medications, supplies for an infant if applicable, a multi-purpose tool, personal hygiene items, copies of important papers, cell phone chargers, extra cash, blankets, maps of the area and emergency contact information. Many of these items are available through the Red Cross Store.
  • Talk with household members and create an evacuation plan. Planning and practicing your evacuation plan minimizes confusion and fear during the event.
  • Be informed. Learn about the community's hurricane response plan. Plan routes to local shelters, register family members with special medical needs as required and make plans for pets to be cared for.
  • Because standard homeowners insurance doesn't cover flooding, it's important to have protection from the floods associated with hurricanes, tropical storms, heavy rains and other conditions that impact the U.S. For more information on flood insurance, please visit the National Flood Insurance Program website at

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has predicted a near-normal year for hurricanes with nine to 15 storms in the Atlantic Ocean. Of these storms, four to eight could strengthen to a hurricane with winds of 74 mph or higher, with as many as three becoming major hurricanes with winds of 111 mph or higher.

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