Being prepared can be critical as storm brews
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.