Be­ing pre­pared can be crit­i­cal as storm brews

The Enterprise - - Community Forum -

It’s no co­in­ci­dence that Septem­ber is Na­tional Pre­pared­ness Month. Septem­ber has brought this area some par­tic­u­larly nasty hur­ri­canes over the years — most no­tably, Is­abel in 2003.

This sum­mer, the slowto-warm ocean wa­ter has had a few months to per­co­late, and Florence, which last week had lost some steam thou­sands of miles from us, has re­gained its mo­men­tum. Most com­puter mod­els have it mak­ing land­fall any­where from the Caroli­nas to the Vir­ginia capes as soon as to­mor­row af­ter­noon as a Cat­e­gory 3 or Cat­e­gory 4 hur­ri­cane. Fore­cast­ers with the Na­tional Weather Ser­vice say we will al­most cer­tainly see some ef­fects of that storm by the week­end.

While the hur­ri­cane anx­i­ety in th­ese parts cen­ters on what might hap­pen if a trop­i­cal storm or worse ever blew up the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay — and there’s been no sci­en­tific pro­jec­tion of that with Florence — the real con­cern in St. Mary’s is al­ways flood­ing. Some years, we’ll get a piece of a pass­ing or weak­en­ing hur­ri­cane to bring us heavy rain to re­lieve a dry year. But 2018 has been a wet one, and this week’s rains have al­ready soft­ened and sat­u­rated the ground. Given those con­di­tions, trop­i­cal rains with strong winds could likely top­ple trees and dam­age power lines. Com­bine those with tidal flood­ing, and this penin­sula could be look­ing at se­ri­ous storm dam­age.

Also, ac­cord­ing to the NWS, two more trop­i­cal storms could be on deck. He­lene is just spin­ning off the west coast of Africa, while Isaac ap­pears pos­si­bly headed into the Car­ib­bean.

So since we ob­vi­ously can’t con­trol the weather, here’s what we can do to get ready for what­ever Mother Na­ture might have in store.

The county’s depart­ment of emer­gency ser­vices and tech­nol­ogy (pre­pare. stmarysmd.com) re­minds res­i­dents that it’s a good time to par­tic­i­pate in ac­tiv­i­ties to help pro­mote disas­ter pre­pared­ness. The Mary­land Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency is on the front lines of this aware­ness cam­paign as well.

MEMA Ex­ec­u­tive Direc­tor Russ Strick­land said one of the eas­i­est ways to be pre­pared is to build an emer­gency sup­ply kit. The kits are a col­lec­tion of ba­sic items fam­i­lies may need in the event of an emer­gency. Keep­ing your kit or­ga­nized in some sort of con­tainer also en­sures that if you have to evac­u­ate, you can quickly take your kit with you.

There are a number of ba­sic items that should go into the kit that you prob­a­bly al­ready have around the house, like wa­ter, food, a flash­light, a first aid kit, a can opener and a ra­dio. There are other items that you may not have thought about or may not have at home, like dust masks, moist tow­elettes, garbage bags or a sleep­ing bag.

MEMA also rec­om­mends re­mem­ber­ing items like di­a­pers, baby for­mula, med­i­ca­tions, con­tact lenses and sup­plies, spe­cial food, or col­or­ing books and ac­tiv­i­ties for kids. You can get a full list­ing of what should go in your emer­gency kit and how you can main­tain it at ready.gov/build-a-kit.

More ideas and in­for­ma­tion for pre­par­ing for ad­verse weather can be found at www.mema.mary­land.gov/ Pages/emer­gen­cies.aspx, a Fed­eral Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency site, www.ready.gov, or at the NWS site re­lated to pre­pared­ness, www.weather.gov/safety.

If you have an el­derly or ill neigh­bor who might need some help or check­ing in on, this would be a good time to do that as well.

We join with emer­gency man­age­ment of­fi­cials in call­ing for ev­ery­one to take steps to be­come bet­ter pre­pared for an emer­gency. Whether it’s a se­ri­ous storm or some­thing else, there’s a lot you can do to be ready.

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