Thursday, May 26, 2011

This is Hurricane Preparedness Week

By Diane Forrest

Are you prepared? 

A hurricane is a tropical cyclone. It occurs over water and usually causes thunder storms and water surges and tornados. All Atlantic and Gulf of Mexican coastal areas are subjected to hurricanes. The season begins in June and lasts until November with the peak beginning in mid-August to October. There are 5 levels of hurricanes, much like the tornado grading system. Winds can exceed 155 miles per hour and can cause catastrophic damage.

Each storm system is named from 1 of 6 lists that are rotated every year. The names start with A, and then go down the alphabet. Until 1979 it was only female names, and then male names were included in the list. If there is a catastrophic storm, the name is removed and replaced with another name. I remember one year the whole list had been used, and they had to start over just using initials.
2011 Tropical Cyclone (Hurricane) Names:

  • Arlene
  • Bret
  • Cindy
  • Don
  • Emily
  • Franklin
  • Gert
  • Harvey
  • Irene
  • Jose
  • Katia
  • Lee
  • Maria
  • Nate
  • Ophelia
  • Philippe
  • Rina
  • Sean
  • Tammy
  • Vince
  • Whitney

How to prepare for a hurricane
There is not much to do in preparation but here are a few suggestions:
1. Have permanent shutters installed for all windows, or keep plywood on hand to cover windows in the event of a storm.
2. If you have a boat, make sure it is secure.
3. Keep your home's gutters cleaned out to prevent water damage
4. Secure any outside fixtures such as lawn furniture, garbage cans, bikes or children's toys as these can be used as missiles and cause damage or injury.
5. Make sure all trees are trimmed and there are no dead limbs hanging loose.
6. Consider building a safe room.
7. Have plenty of flashlights and batteries on hand as well as a transistor radio.
8. Have a well-stocked first aid kit
9. Keep plenty of bottled water on hand as well as canned goods.

While there are many hurricanes each season, not all of them reach land. Everyone remembers Hurricane Katrina, the most damaging and deadliest hurricane most of us have experienced in our lifetime. 

 My family, being from Gulfport, Mississippi, have lived through many hurricanes. The worst at that time being Hurricane Camille. My grandparent's home being not too far from the beach, luckily only sustained minor damage. Others were not as fortunate. I remember riding down the streets months later and seeing clothes handing on the trees, and large boats blown across the road. I have included some of the pictures that were taken at that time by my father.

I also remember when I was in school being shown those Civil Defense film strips about emergency preparedness. They showed groups of people having "hurricane parties". They did not take the warnings seriously, didn't evacuate, and paid for it with their lives. Even today, with the advances in storm warnings and tracking's, some people refuse to take appropriate measures. As in Katrina, people didn't listen, or waited to long before taking action. Thousands of homes were destroyed and lives were lost.

During this hurricane season, remain alert and follow safety instructions and warnings, make sure your home and property are secured and if told to evacuate, then leave. Items can be replaced, but people can't!



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