It’s summertime and the livin’ is easy — that is until a tropical storm or hurricane starts bearing down on the East Coast. And if an evacuation is called, the living can get panicky and chaotic.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Hurricane season officially began June 1, but late summer/early fall usually is the busiest time for the counterclockwise-turning bearers of rain, wind and flooding. So that means you still have time to put together an emergency supply kit and come up with a family disaster plan for if or when a storm heads our way.
According to the National Hurricane Center, you should do the following for a family plan:
• Discuss the type of hazards that could affect your family. Know your home’s vulnerability to storm surge, flooding and wind.
• Locate a safe room or the safest areas in your home for each hurricane hazard. In certain circumstances the safest areas may not be your home but within your community.
• Have an out-of-state friend as a family contact, so all your family members have a single point of contact.
• Make a plan now for what to do with your pets if you need to evacuate.
• Check your insurance coverage — flood damage usually is not covered by homeowners insurance. Visit the National Flood Insurance Program website at www.floodsmart.gov for more information.
• Stock non-perishable emergency supplies and a disaster supply kit.
Having an evacuation plan could save you a lot of headaches should the time come. Liberty County Emergency Management Agency Director Mike Hodges said when the word is given to evacuate, Liberty County residents will be instructed to move west on Highways 196, 84 and 144. All the lanes will be opened and the evacuation will be handled on a staggered method, he said.
Should that play out, the NHC says you don’t have to wait for a mandatory evacuation to leave if a storm is on the way. Leaving ahead of time likely could help keep you from getting stuck in traffic. If you’ll need to stay in a hotel, be sure to make a reservation before you leave since rooms will fill quickly after an evacuation is called. And don’t wait until you’re out of town to fill up your gas tank. As more and more people begin to hit the highways and interstates, it’s not uncommon for stations to run out of gas. Also, don’t forget to bring along your emergency supply kit.
It’s been a while since a major storm has threatened our area. But with NOAA predicting an “above average” hurricane season with 12-18 named storms and as many as six Category 3 or greater hurricanes, it’s not out of the question. So prepare now while it seems as though there’s little reason to. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
For more information on hurricane preparedness, visit www.nhc.noaa.gov/outreach/prepared_week.shtml or call the Liberty County Emergency Management Agency’s information line at 912-877-5362.