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Major P. May
George H. McKinney
Even before the June 1 official start of the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season, Tropical Storm Alberto reminded us recently that now is the time to get ready for hurricane season.
In South Carolina, local emergency managers and partner state agencies have updated and expanded all evacuation zones, based on the current conditions in their communities. Results from a flood inundation study recently completed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Army Corps of Engineers show many more areas along the coast are vulnerable to storm surge and flooding from a hurricane making landfall in the state. The study used current technology and produced more accurate modeling of flood-prone areas.
History teaches us that a lack of hurricane awareness and preparation are common threads among all major hurricane disasters. Families, individuals and businesses who know their vulnerability and what actions to take can reduce the effects of a hurricane disaster.
That was the reason for promoting National Hurricane Preparedness Week, May 27 through June 2, 2012. Gov. Nikki Haley also proclaimed the week as “Hurricane Awareness Week” in South Carolina.
FEMA officials are calling on all South Carolinians to “Be a Force of Nature,” and take the steps needed to prepare for this season.
Here are some steps to follow to “Be a Force of Nature” and be prepared for when hurricanes, severe storms, flooding or tornadoes associated with hurricanes affect your area:
u Know your risk: The first step to “Be a Force of Nature” is to understand how hurricanes can affect where you live and work, and how the weather could impact you and your family. Even if you don’t live on the coast, you can still experience heavy rains and flooding as a result of hurricanes and tropical storms. Check the weather forecast regularly, sign up for local alerts from emergency management officials and get a NOAA Weather Radio.
u Take action: Pledge to develop an emergency plan based on local hurricanes, severe storms and flooding hazards in your area, and practice how and where you will evacuate if instructed by local emergency management officials. Post your plan in your home where visitors can see it. Learn how to strengthen your home and business against hurricanes. Download mobile apps from FEMA. Get a copy of the official South Carolina Hurricane Guide, which is distributed in newspapers along the coast and will be available on the S.C. Emergency Management Division web site www.scemd.org.
u Be a force of nature: Building a weather-ready nation requires the action of each and every one of us.
Once you have taken action, tell your family, friends, school staff and co-workers about how they can prepare. Share the resources and alert systems you discovered through your social media network. Studies show that individuals need to receive messages a number of ways before acting. Be one of those sources.
Information on the different types of severe weather is available at scemd.org, www.weather.gov, www.ready.gov or the Spanish-language web site www.listo.gov.
Major P. May is the Region IV administrator, for the Federal Emergency Management Agency and George H. McKinney is director of the S. C. Emergency Management Division.