A Practical Guide to Hurricane Preparedness for Crisis Communicators

How to prepare for the hurricane season.

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Dear reader,

In this week's edition of the Wag The Dog Newsletter, I am covering the topic of hurricane preparedness.

While it is true that not all of my readers reside in hurricane-prone areas, it is essential to acknowledge that the "season" is rapidly approaching for a significant portion of this newsletter’s audience.

I hope this article will be valuable and useful to many of you who are reading Wag The Dog every week.

Also, don’t forget to register for the webinar on AI and Crisis Simulations (new date after the technical glitch from last week; my apologies again), and if you’re interested in a two-day bootcamp on AI, then please check out the dates in July.

All details are below today’s article 👇

Have a good read.

Table of Contents

So this week I want to share a practical, step-by-step guide to hurricane preparedness specifically tailored for my fellow crisis, risk, and emergency communication professionals (that’s you! 😅).

I hope this guide will help you and your community prepare during this hurricane season.

Know your community

Start by identifying the most vulnerable populations in your area: the elderly, the disabled, people who don't speak English (or your national language), and people in flood zones.

Connect with community leaders who can help you understand their needs and how you can best communicate with them. If you build these relationships now, they will be invaluable in a storm.


Identify vulnerable populations: A coastal town conducts a comprehensive survey to map the areas where older people live and identify several senior living communities and remote rural homes. This information is used to prioritise these areas for targeted evacuation assistance and communications.

The city's disaster preparedness team is working with local church leaders who have strong connections within the community to disseminate hurricane preparedness information during church services and community meetings.

Formulate your message(s)

Develop clear, actionable messages to guide your congregation well in advance of a hurricane's approach. Keep it simple: how to assemble an emergency kit, check your insurance, and create an evacuation plan.

Adapt the messages for different audiences and translate them into the languages commonly spoken in your region. Have templates ready where you can quickly insert storm-specific information.


Create clear, actionable messages: The emergency management team is developing a series of infographics that make it clear how to put together an emergency kit and are tailored to different audiences, such as families, seniors, and non-English speakers.

Use multiple channels: In addition to traditional media, the team is introducing a mobile app that will send push notifications with real-time weather updates, preparedness tips, and evacuation instructions, ensuring residents are informed in a timely manner.

Don't rely on just one means of communication: use social media, mobile notifications, the radio, and neighbourhood networks to make sure you don't miss anyone. Work with local media now to establish protocols for sharing urgent information. Create a communication plan in case the power and mobile connection go down.

Train your (extended) team

Your ability to communicate effectively depends on your team. Conduct drills on your hurricane response plan, including activating emergency call systems and coordinating with local authorities. Make sure everyone knows their role and educate yourself to ensure redundancy.


Conduct training and drills: The community organises a city-wide evacuation drill that simulates the conditions of a hurricane during a pandemic, including the establishment of shelters and the use of personal protective equipment if necessary.

Collaboration with local agencies and organisations: The emergency management team is partnering with a local university to develop a volunteer programme to train students to support emergency response efforts, including door-to-door information campaigns and staffing evacuation shelters.

Promoting Preparedness: A local school district organises a "Family Preparedness Night" where families come together to learn about creating emergency plans, assembling emergency kits, and understanding local evacuation routes through interactive workshops.

Be the trusted voice

Monitor the storm's development and be prepared to interpret developments for your community. Provide regular updates in a calm, authoritative tone. Respond quickly to misinformation. Refer people to resources and support. Be the official source people can count on.


Monitor weather forecasts: The emergency management team sets up a command centre with screens displaying real-time weather forecasts from the “National Hurricane Centre” so they can make informed decisions quickly.

Stay involved even after the storm

Your work is not over when the storm is over. Communicate throughout the recovery phase with information on everything from debris removal to insurance claims to mental health assistance. Share stories of neighbourhood support to maintain a sense of community and resilience.


Provide timely information: After a hurricane, the emergency management team provides regular updates via social media and the local radio station on power restoration, road closures, and the location of relief distribution centres.

Supporting rebuilding efforts: The team is working with a local newspaper to publish stories about the community's resilience and rebuilding efforts, highlighting how neighbours have helped each other clear the rubble and rebuild.

Gathering feedback from the community: The team distributes surveys to participants to gather feedback on the effectiveness of communication channels and the clarity of evacuation instructions, and uses this information to improve future preparedness efforts.

In short…

The most important thing is that you start the work now so that you can focus on implementation in the event of a hurricane.

Preparing your community is a huge responsibility, but it is also an opportunity to demonstrate the important role of crisis communicators. If we can keep people informed and safe, we've done our job.

I hope you found this helpful.

PS: Also check out the free downloadable resources I created around the topic: a hurricane prep family evacuation plan guide and an emergency evacuation kit list.


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Training and Webinars

Webinar on April 25.

What I am reading/testing/checking out:

  • Demo: StructuredPrompt: the TRAACI model.

  • Cyber Security: CISA Tabletop Exercise Packages (CTEPs)

  • Demo: How to Add Custom GPTs to WhatsApp

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Parts of this newsletter were created using AI technology to draft content. In addition, all AI-generated images include a caption stating, 'This image was created using AI'. These changes were made in line with the transparency requirements of the EU AI law for AI-generated content.

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