The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association released its 2007 Hurricane season prediction Tuesday. Experts are projecting a 75 percent chance we will face an above normal year of Hurricane and storm activity.
According to retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D. and undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator, NOAA is predicting 13 to 17 named storms, with seven to ten becoming hurricanes, of which three to five could become major category three or more storms.
Climate patterns that would account for the higher than normal hurricane activity are still in place. The formation of the La Nina cycle, that increases the likelihood of intense hurricane activity, is predicted to form within the next one to two months.
“With expectations for an active season, it is critically important that people who live in East and Gulf coastal areas as well as the Caribbean be prepared,” said Bill Proenza, NOAA National Hurricane Center director.
The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through Nov. 30, with the peak activity occurring August through October. “Now is the time to update your hurricane plan, not when the storm is bearing down on you,” Proenza said.
On May 18, President Bush signed the proclamation declaring May 20-26, National Hurricane Preparedness Week providing the opportunity to raise awareness on the importance of preparing for a storm season.
According to Liberty /Hinesville Emergency Management Agency Director Tom Burriss, early preparedness is the key to a successful emergency plan, but many do not prepare at all.
“This area has not seen a direct hit by a major storm in so long, people become complacent, thinking it can’t happen here,” he said. “Unfortunately that is a huge error as we are in a vulnerable area prone to flooding and still reasonably near the coast.”
Hurricane hazards come in many forms: storm surge, floods, tornadoes and high winds may be present before during, and after the hurricane goes through the area.
In addition the hazards from fallen tree limbs, downed power lines, flooded roadways, house debris and more can inhibit the ability for rescue crews to gain access to your area in a timely manner.
One of the primary lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina is the responsibility that people must take in caring for themselves and being prepared with several days’ worth of supplies.
“People learned that they cannot expect FEMA, Red Cross or other relief agencies to be there within a few hours or a day,” Burris said. “We need everyone to have supplies in place for more than three days, we ask for people to be prepared for up to seven days, because you just never know.”
The first step in preparing is sitting down with your family and making a plan.
“Children need to know what to do as much as the adults and include a plan for your pets, they are just as frightened and vulnerable during these situations,” Burriss said.
Once you have a plan in place gather the necessary items you would need to sustain your family for several days. Don’t forget medical supplies, cash, and plenty of fuel for your vehicles.
Last, a plan will only work if you practice it. Sit down with your family and create a disaster scenario, the worse the better. Discuss what your role in the disaster is as it pertains to keeping your family safe, secure and nourished for several days without help. Check it against your inventory of supplies and add to it if necessary.
History has taught us that by knowing your vulnerability and what actions you should take, you can reduce the effects of a hurricane disaster.
“Preparation through education is less costly than learning through tragedy,” Proenza said.
Related Web links
For information on how to prepare view these Web sites:
A detailed guide on disaster preparedness will be available in the Coastal Courier’s Neighbors and NewComers guide to be published in June.