Don’t wait around for a Har­vey or Irma

The Calvert Recorder - - Community Forum -

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.

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