Tuesday night Fort Stewart officials had a community briefing for soldiers and their families. The briefing was one of two held each year to ensure that everyone is ready to respond to any emergency or severe weather situation.
In the event of a hurricane evacuation in Liberty County, most residents will use the evacuation routes along Highway 144, the Fort Stewart gate to Glennville.
“I would have to do some historical research on that one,” Dennis Feltgen of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association said, while on his cell phone in Miami. “Was it David?”
In fact, it was.
In 1979, the category 2 storm hit Palm Beach, Fla., and then the Georgia coast with 80 mile an hour winds, just days after it wreaked havoc in Barbados and the Dominican Republic, killing 1,500 people.
Since then, there have been watches and warnings issued, such as in 1999 for Hurricane Floyd, but nothing comes close to the devastation David brought.
But officials say coastal residents shouldn’t count on the luck continuing.
“Every piece of real estate along the Atlantic coast has been hit by a hurricane at some point,” Feltgen said. “[The Georgia coast] will get hit. It is not a matter of if. It is a matter of when.”
According to Mike Hodges, director of the Liberty County-Hinesville Emergency Management Agency, hurricane scientists have forecast six named hurricanes for this year’s season, which begins June 1.
Having a hurricane kit is good idea, according to Ricky Jones, a manager at Lowes in Hinesville.
He said there are important items every home should have, including a generator, sheets of plywood and hurricane window clips to hold the plywood over windows.
“One pack of hurricane clips will cover like five windows,” Jones said. “And what you would spend on a generator would be the same amount for food that could spoil in your refrigerator. It is better to get these items now, instead of waiting to the last minute. You never know when we are going to run out.”
Feltgen said the NOAA shares in Hodge’s and Jones’ philosophies.
“What our message is,” Feltgen said, “is that you need to prepare for the hurricane season as if this is the year you are going to get a storm. It only takes one storm to make it a very bad year for you.”
“The best thing [people] can do for themselves is be informed, stay aware,” Hodges said. “You know what’s best for you, what’s required for you in the event you have to evacuate, what you need. Do you have money? Do you have enough medication to last you? If you are a dialysis patient, do you have a plan in the event that you need to get a treatment? What will you do with your pets?”
“And most importantly share information. Let people know where you are going.”