Don’t wait around for a Harvey or Irma
Last month, Hurricane Harvey dumped rain all over Texas and Louisiana — in some areas, more than 45 inches. Then Irma wreaked havoc in the Caribbean, Florida and Georgia, while other storms formed in the Atlantic along with it, and the coastal U.S. keeps bracing for potentially more damaging wind and rain.
While Maryland has been fortunate so far this season, the state is no stranger to historically merciless hurricanes and tropical storms. The last major destructive storm to sweep through was Hurricane Sandy in 2012. One year prior, Hurricane Irene struck, downing trees by the dozens throughout Calvert. Many residents also still recall the damaging effects of Hurricane Isabel in 2003.
Recently, the Calvert County Department of Public Safety’s emergency management division issued a release reminding residents September — National Preparedness Month — is the perfect time of year to review severe weather and emergency readiness.
“As we saw in the last week of July when storms dropped nearly six inches of rain in a 24-hour period, disasters can strike in our very own backyards at any time,” emergency management division director Al Jeffery said in the release. “Don’t wait for a disaster to be on your doorstep to start preparing.”
Suggestions for preparing for emergency weather events, taken from www. ready.gov, include filling out a family emergency plan (found at www. ready.gov/make-a-plan) and tailoring it to specific daily living needs and responsibilities, and having a conversation with the people in your network about how communication will work, who will care for children or pets and who is in charge of medical equipment, the release states.
For hurricanes specifically, the county released a separate advisement last week:
• Prepare for high winds: If necessary, protect all windows with shutters or 5/8-inch plywood panels. Reinforce garage doors. Designate an interior room with no windows or external doors as a “safe room.” Assess landscaping and trees to ensure they do not become a wind hazard.
• Prepare for flooding: Determine the elevation of your property to learn your vulnerability to flooding. Evaluate your insurance coverage. In flood-prone areas, keep on hand materials such as sandbags, plywood, plastic sheeting, plastic garbage bags, lumber, shovels, work boots and gloves.
• Prepare for evacuation: Know the local hurricane evacuation route and have a plan for where to stay. Put together a go-bag and include a flashlight, batteries, cash, first aid supplies, medications and copies of critical information. Lock windows and doors. Offer rides to neighbors who are without transportation. Take your pets and their supplies with you.
As the storm approaches, if you are not in an area advised to evacuate and you decide to stay in your home, plan for adequate supplies in case you lose power and water for several days. Build or restock your basic disaster supplies kit. Secure outside objects that could become projectiles in high winds. If you have an emergency generator, start it to make sure it is operating correctly. Never operate a generator in an enclosed area, and have ample fuel supply available.
Then listen carefully for safety instructions from local officials. Mon- itor National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radio.
During the storm, stay inside and away from windows, skylights and doors. Listen to a battery-powered radio for updates. Have flashlights and batteries handy and avoid open flames and candles. If power is lost, turn off major appliances to reduce damage when it is restored. After the storm, stay away from downed or dangling power lines and weakened tree limbs. Don’t drive into water of unknown depth.
The county also encourages residents to stay on top of local emergency information by downloading the free “Prepare Me Calvert” emergency preparedness mobile app, available for iOS (Apple) and Android devices through the Apple App Store or Goggle Play market. In addition, residents can sign up for emergency alerts at www.co.cal. md.us; click on the Emergency Alerts button. Those without internet can call 410-535-1600, ext. 2638, to sign up to receive alerts.
Don’t wait until a devastating storm like Harvey or Irma strikes our area. Before the wind and rains even blow through, get prepared and be safe.