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How to prepare for Hurricane Joaquin before it hits the East Coast
The powerful Hurricane Joaquin is barreling toward the East Coast. Here's what you can do to stay safe ahead of time. - photo by Herb Scribner
The powerful Hurricane Joaquin, which recently hit the eastern and central Bahamas, is barreling toward the United States and will likely reach the East Coast by the weekend, The Associated Press reported.

The hurricane has already caused minor flooding in the Bahamas, and the same is expected for the East Coast. Though forecasters are unsure specifically where the Category 3 hurricane will fall, it likely will combine with rain and severe storms that are already pounding down on the East Coast, according to the AP.

Eastern states like North Carolina, New York and Pennsylvania are on the current storm path.

Some states, such as Pennsylvania, have already put out emergency alerts for the forthcoming rainy weather. In fact, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Association (PEMA) alerted state residents to prepare for possible flooding due to the hurricane, according to WGAL, a Pennsylvania TV station.

We are several days away from any impact from Hurricane Joaquin, but were expecting more rain this weekend, so if you live in a flood-prone area, get ready, said Richard D. Flinn, director of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, to WGAL. It is important for people to be prepared and what they do now can make a big difference if there is flooding later.

Experts say the storm will likely hit the Carolinas first, the AP reported.

"Residents of the Carolinas north should be paying attention and monitoring the storm. There's no question," said Eric Blake, a hurricane specialist at the U.S. National Hurricane Center, to the AP. "If your hurricane plans got a little dusty because of the light hurricane season, now is a good time to update them."

East Coast families have some time to prepare for the hurricane. Even though meteorologists are unsure of where the hurricane will hit and how strong it will be when it does, families can make some simple preparations for the upcoming storm.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends people stay informed about the hurricane, which includes double-checking weather reports, staying in contact with the local community and subscribing to emergency alert systems. Its also important to have a backup emergency notification system in case some electronic devices lose their power from the storm.

Think about how you will stay informed if there is a power outage, FEMA explained. Have extra batteries for a battery-operated radio and your cellphone. Consider having a hand-crank radio or cellphone charger.

Families should also know their evacuation routes and plans for transportation if they are asked to leave their homes because of the weather conditions, according to the National Hurricane Center. This also requires people to fill up their cars with gas and have emergency relief tools available for transportation.

Those who are also in the storms path may want to trim the trees and shrubs around your home to make them more wind resistant and clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts, according to The Baltimore Sun. It also helps to put away any outdoor furniture to avoid any damage to your home, The Sun reported.

To help plans go smoothly, FEMA recommends families practice how to communicate and act during an emergency.

In a dangerous situation, your first thoughts will be the safety of your family and friends, according to FEMA. In case you are not together when authorities issue a tropical storm or hurricane watch, or a tropical storm or hurricane warning, practice how you will communicate with each other. Remember that sending texts is often faster than making a phone call. Keep important numbers written in your wallet, not just on your phone. It is sometimes easier to reach people outside of your local area during an emergency, so choose an out-of-town contact for all family members to call, or use social media.