Preparation key to surviving storms

Published 11:27am Monday, June 2, 2014

Hurricane season began yesterday, while forecasters are calling for few storms, emergency officials are encouraging the state’s residents to be prepared.
The National Hurricane Prediction center is calling for eight to 13 tropical storms between now and the end of November with very few of them becoming named hurricanes. Rather than rejoice at the news, Warren County residents should take an opportunity to review their plans and restock emergency kits, Warren County Emergency Manager John Elfer said.
“Even though we are predicted to have a fairly quite hurricane season, it doesn’t take but one storm. If we get one big storm, it could have a significant impact on us,” Elfer said.
This week Elfer and about 500 other emergency management workers met in Biloxi to discuss the state’s hurricane plans.
“Mississippi is probably one of the best prepared states in the United States when it comes to disasters,” Elfer said after attending the conference.
While the state is prepared with meticulously calculated plans, rescue is often delayed for areas where power and water systems fail for an extended period of time.
“We need to encourage and continue to work on a spirit of individual responsibility for your own well being. Basically the first 72 hours is on you. Government is there to help, but we can’t be everywhere,” Elfer said.
To help alleviate conditions in those first 72 hours, Elfer recommends putting together an emergency kit containing an assortment of nonperishable food, batteries, flashlights and water. Having cash on hand can also be helpful because ATMs might not be available for several days, he said. Medication is another important factor that some people forget to have stocked away in case of an emergency, he said.
“Once we’re affected by these storms and services are interrupted, your local pharmacy might be closed for a few days,” he said.
In Warren County, the biggest potential impact comes from downed trees and tornadoes spawned hurricanes. Monitoring conditions through a weather radio or via the CodeRed Alert system is the best way to know when severe weather is coming, he said.
Sign-up is available on the county’s website — www.co.warren.ms.us — by clicking on county agencies and scrolling down to Emergency Management.
The weather alert system will send a text message or make an automated phone call when the National Weather Service issues severe weather warnings.
Safety during storm cleanup is also important, Elfer said.

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