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Hurricane Season

Hope For The Best but Prepare For The Worst-Finding good contractors before you need them

© Rusty Russ
Craig Fugate

Hurricanes are like houseguests from out of state—whether we like them or not, we can expect them to visit every year. Are you prepared? If not, local emergency managers, rescue workers, and government officials can help.

Last week, May 23-May 28, 2010, many of these primary responders attended the 24th Annual Governor’s Hurricane Conference in Ft. Lauderdale. The purpose of the conference is to improve hurricane preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation through training sessions and informative presentations. This year’s keynote speakers included Florida Governor Charlie Crist, FEMA Director Craig Fugate, and National Hurricane Center Director Bill Read. “Resiliency through preparedness” was the message.

At the conference I learned that there is more to emergency preparedness than simply stockpiling food, water, and medical supplies. For example, it is important to establish a main contact person who resides out of state. Why? Because it is often easier to make a long distance call after a disaster and one point of contact reduces redundancy. Another matter to consider is evacuation. If you need to evacuate, do you know where you are going and how you will get there? Emergency management officials have designated roads and shelters that should be used during a disaster. In order to evacuate promptly, you should know their locations beforehand. Keep in mind that some evacuation routes generally only allow traffic to travel one direction― away from an oncoming Category 4 or 5 hurricane. Therefore make sure you have everything you need including sufficient gas for your car.

If evacuation is not mandated and you decide to stay put, make sure your windows are protected from airborne debris. If you have hurricane shutters, now is the time to check their functionality. Missing hardware and plywood for makeshift shutters may sell out if you wait until the last minute. Once your house is secure, emergency managers suggest that you stay in an interior room because it generally has fewer openings such as doors and windows.

Because hurricanes often cause power outages and road closures, it is essential to have sufficient emergency supplies to get you through a minimum of three to five days. The recommended supplies are:

  • 1 gallon of drinking water per person per day (This does not include water for cleaning and cooking.)
  • Unscented bleach for disinfecting water
  • Nonperishable ready-to-eat food
  • Manual can opener
  • Medical prescriptions and first aid kit
  • Personal hygiene items such as soap, toothpaste, and toilet paper
  • Clothes, shoes, gloves, blanket, and towel
  • Battery-operated radio
  • Analog phone
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Cash and credit cards
  • Important documents such as driver’s license, social security card, medical information and cards, insurance information and cards, in a plastic and sealable bag

If you have children or pets, you need to provide for them also.

Although there were relatively few hurricanes in 2009, it only takes one hurricane to cause a disaster. NOAA predicts that there will be 14-23 tropical systems ranging from tropical storms to major hurricanes in the Atlantic this year. Therefore it is important to be prepared and have a plan because any tropical system that impacts our area will have adverse effects of wind and water. As the saying goes, “Hope for the best but prepare for the worst."

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