Frequently Asked Questions: Adverse Weather & Your Vacation

While we would prefer sunny days and warm weather every day of the year, the North Carolina coast experiences its share of inclement weather - specifically during hurricane season. Read on to learn more about hurricane season, evacuations, refunds, and much more. Should you have any questions, please contact our office by phone call to (800) 486-5441 or by email to

What is the difference between a tropical depression, tropical storm, and a hurricane?

The National Weather Service defines a tropical depression as a tropical cyclone that has maximum sustained surface winds of 38 mph or less, a tropical storm as a tropical cyclone with maximum sustained surface winds of 39 to 73 mph, and a hurricane as a tropical cyclone with maximum sustained surface winds of 74 mph or greater.

When is hurricane season?

Hurricane season occurs annually between June 1st and November 30th. Per the National Weather Service, the number of tropical storms and hurricanes increases substantially in August, peaks in mid-September and decreases towards a minimum by early November.

What is the difference between a tropical storm/hurricane watch and a warning?

A watch typically indicates that storm conditions are possible within 48 hours whereas a warning indicates that conditions are expected within 36 hours.

What are the most common threats from a tropical storm or hurricane?

For our area, the most common threats posed by a tropical storm or hurricane include storm surge, heavy rains, flash flooding, heavy winds and life-threatening rip currents. The amount of rain can cause road wash outs and heavy ponding. Tornadoes may occur as well.

What is the difference between a voluntary and a mandatory evacuation?

Generally speaking, evacuation orders are issued by emergency management or government officials (local, state and/or federal) to move people away from the threat or actual occurrence of a disaster, storm, hurricane, etc. Evacuation orders may be voluntary or mandatory and could apply to all people or to separate groups, i.e., a mandatory evacuation for all non-residents and a voluntary evacuation for residents.

A voluntary evacuation typically means that authorities are urging you to seek shelter outside of the potentially affected area but that the choice to stay remains yours. Voluntary evacuation orders are usually issued when there are potential threats associated. A mandatory evacuation typically applies to all people and means that you should leave the area immediately, and usually applies when a threat is imminent.

In the event that you are renting a property in an area under a voluntary evacuation order, MRA recommends that you seek shelter outside of the area. In the event that you are renting a property in an area under a mandatory evacuation, you are required to comply with the order and leave the area. 

Please note that evacuations may affect your ability to check-in to a property (if you have not already started your vacation) and it may affect your ability to re-enter the property. Entry/Re-entry cannot be guaranteed.

How can I keep my family safe during a tropical storm or hurricane?

While preparedness depends on your situation and it’s hard to prepare for everything that “could” happen, we recommend the following actionable items when traveling during hurricane season:

  • Build an emergency supplies kit before a disaster happens. For suggestions on what to include in your emergency supply kit, download this Hurricane Guide (the supplies list is on page 13).
  • Fuel up all of the vehicles and withdraw cash in the event that banks and/or gas stations are closed.
  • Be weather aware by monitoring the local weather reports. Research the evacuation routes ahead of time.
  • Follow all evacuation orders. If authorities issue a mandatory evacuation, evacuate promptly and double check that you have taken all personal items with you as you may not be allowed to return.
  • If evacuation is ordered, remember to “Turn Around, Don’t Drown” as just a few inches on a flooded or washed-out road can float a car.

**Keep in mind that travel may be affected and MRA cannot make judgement calls as to your personal situation.

What are trusted sources of information when it comes to tropical storms or hurricanes?

For this immediate area, trusted sources of information can be found on local, regional and national levels. Click on each name below to be taken to the organization or agency website.

How can I protect my vacation investment?

Margaret Rudd & Associates offers guests the option to purchase a travel insurance plan that will provide a wide array of coverages including, but not limited to, trip cancellation, trip interruption, travel delay, emergency assistance and transportation, etc. For a very small percentage of your total folio cost, MRA highly suggests adding the optional plan to your reservation at booking; however, you may purchase the plan through us any time prior to making the final payment on your folio. Please note that if you do not purchase travel insurance and a named storm is present and predicted for our coastline, any insurance coverage purchased after that fact will not include trip cancellation or interruption protection in relation to that particular present storm.

**Also of note, refunds will not be provided in the event of a hurricane evacuation or other event covered by the optional travel insurance plan.

What is your refund policy with regard to hurricanes and evacuations?

Refunds will not be provided in the event of a hurricane evacuation or any other event covered by the optional travel insurance plan. If you purchased the optional travel insurance plan and are affected by a mandatory evacuation, you are advised to file a claim with the travel insurance provider. At this time, please note that there is no coverage provided for a voluntary evacuation order.

What is the NC Real Estate Commission's position on refunds for guests affected by hurricanes and/or evacuations?

You may read the full statement here: Hurricanes, Evacuations, and Vacation Rentals

To summarize some important points:

(2) When a vacation tenant complies with an evacuation order, he or she is generally entitled to a refund of a share of the money he or she has paid for the rental (rent, security deposit, taxes, etc.) prorated for each night the evacuation order was in effect.

(3) There is an exception to this rule, however. If the tenant was offered travel insurance that covered the risk of mandatory evacuation, then the landlord has no obligation to refund the tenant’s money. To trigger the exception, the cost of the insurance offered cannot exceed 8% of the cost of the vacation rental and the policy cannot exclude the particular storm. It is important to note that some vacation rental insurance companies exclude coverage for storms that have been named by the National Hurricane Center prior to date the insurance was purchased. If a storm is named prior to the purchase of travel insurance and, if the insurance will not cover the tenant for losses or damages resulting from a mandatory evacuation or from damages and losses caused by the named storm, then the tenant is entitled to a refund from the landlord of all monies paid.

(4) If, following the storm and after any mandatory evacuation has been lifted, the landlord or his broker cannot provide a promised rental property to a vacation rental tenant – whether the reason is that the house was significantly damaged or that it is inaccessible due to damage to or closure of roads or ferries – the tenant is entitled to either a refund of his money or the substitution of a reasonably comparable property at the same cost. This refund may come in the form of a paid claim against travel insurance. Tenants and vacation rental managers are encouraged to read and understand the limits of coverage being offered.

How do I file a claim for a refund due to a covered risk of the optional travel insurance?

If you wish to file a claim, you may do so electronically through Generali’s eClaim Portal or by calling (800) 541-3522 toll free. Please note that you will need to provide information on your folio with Margaret Rudd & Associates such as your folio number, your planned arrival and departure dates, and the reason for the claim. (You may also download a description of your coverage/policy in the portal.)

eClaim Portal

If I am evacuated, how do I know when I can return to my vacation?

Following an evacuation, we suggest remaining weather aware and following all news outlets as well as checking any emails or text messages from our office. Re-entry is NOT guaranteed as we have no control over when the evacuation order will be lifted, nor can we allow guests to immediately access properties following an evacuation. For your safety, staff must have time to evaluate each property for storm damages in order to determine if each property is safe for guests to return.  With that being said, guests scheduled to arrive during or following an evacuation order could be delayed or prevented from checking in. MRA does its best to handle these situations efficiently but there are many factors outside of our control.

If I am scheduled to check-in/arrive at my rental property but there is an evacuation, what should I do?

As mentioned previously, remain weather aware by following all news outlets and checking emails or text messages from our office. MRA must adhere to all evacuation orders and guidance of the emergency management authorities. As soon as staff is permitted and can safely access the island, MRA will begin the process of accessing properties for storm damages and to determine if each property is safe for guests. Following this assessment, MRA will notify guests of the status of the property they have rented and if they will be permitted to check-in or not. Check-in availability will be determined and communicated on a weekly basis. Please note that your ability to check in is NOT guaranteed under these circumstances.

Can you share a few examples of how a hurricane affected a vacation and/or the area?

  • Hurricane Florence came onshore in September of 2018. Although later downgraded to a tropical storm, the heavy rains, storm surges and flooding caused by the storm left Oak Island with a reported $11 million in damages and about 75,000 business and households without power. The Towns of Caswell Beach and Oak Island, as well as the City of Southport, issued a mandatory evacuation orders which included the closing of both bridges to the island and a mandated curfew by Brunswick County. The mandatory evacuation spanned a timeframe of 10 to 14 days with some arrivals being delayed due to lack of utilities and/or road issues.
  • Hurricane Isaias came onshore in August of 2020 as a category 1 hurricane. Although it was a low-rated hurricane, it caused extensive damages to our area. The Towns of Oak Island and Caswell Beach issued states of emergency declarations effective August 2 which included voluntary evacuation orders. Once the storm passed, the damages sustained along the oceanfront were significant, electricity was out on most of the island and the sewer stations along the beachfront were down. The Town of Caswell Beach was not as affected by the storm. The Town of Oak Island then issued a mandatory evacuation order effective August 5th which continued through to August 18th in various aspects (blocking certain areas of the island, etc.)

If I am on property but there is no evacuation order, what should I do?

Any guest on property during inclement weather should remain weather aware and prepared for an evacuation order. We ask guests to pull any light outdoor furniture inside the property or as close to the building as possible. Additionally, we ask that you take down any exterior umbrellas or shades, or contact the office if it is too difficult for you. Any exterior rocking chairs should be turned upside down.

We ask that you prepare your family in the event that an order to evacuate is issued so that you can evacuate in a timely manner. Preparations would include gathering all of your food and possessions so you can quickly take them with you if needed.