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Tropical Storm Bill good practice

It wasn't the worst-case scenario -- this time, but we can learn something from Tropical Storm Bill.

As the rain-making tropical system crept towards Louisiana's coastline Monday, area emergency management officials were able to use the system as a test, a dry-run if you will, of the potential weather disaster that could have been, or could come.

Small tropical storms like Bill are the perfect way for citizens and government agencies to test their own tropical disaster plan.

The Covington County Emergency Management Agency used Bill to test their plan.

According to Susan Carpenter, EMA director, the agency was in constant contact with the National Weather Service, the National Hurricane Center and other agencies to constantly monitor the storm. EMA also used the storm as a chance to double check all procedures and make sure everything was in order.

Everyday citizens can follow that lead and use other small tropical systems like Bill to practice their own personal disaster drill. Or, if they don't have one, develop one.

Carpenter said EMA officials encourage everyone to develop their own personal disaster plan and practice it. We also encourage everyone to develop and practice their own plan.

Afterall, practice makes perfect, and it could save your life.

In order to develop a plan, EMA recommends making a checklist for necessary items, keeping extra batteries handy, having a contact list for people you must notify in the event of an evacuation, etc.

We also recommend purchasing a NOAA Weather Radio, available at many retail outlets in Covington County, to keep abreast of the latest changes in the weather.

No, Tropical Storm Bill wasn't Hurricane Opal. Let's all hope we never have another one like that, but we learned from our mistakes during Opal. We were given plenty of opportunities to practice our disaster plans earlier that year -- but instead, we just kept plugging right along. Let's not do that again.

Use Bill and any other small tropical system as practice. Not a reason to panic, just a reason to practice.

Because even with the smallest of systems, the possibility of real disaster like flooding and isolated tornadoes exists.

Be cautious and be safe.