EMA: prepare now for hurricane season

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 15, 2010

“Don’t wait” is the advice local emergency management officials are giving residents regarding to preparing for this year’s hurricane season.

On Monday – 15 days into the season – forecasters were beginning to keep a close watch on a low-pressure system in the south-central Atlantic Ocean that appears likely to develop into the season’s first tropical storm.

While the storm is still thousands of miles from the U.S., the National Hurricane Center said the system has about a 40 percent chance of developing into a tropical storm.

Susan Carpenter, Covington County Emergency Management Agency director, said news of the season’s activity was no surprise.

“It’s really being stressed to us that forecasters are predicting a very active hurricane season,” said Carpenter, who, like other EMA directors from Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi, recently returned from the annual regional hurricane conference.

Most experts have predicted a busier-than-normal hurricane season, with as many 18 named storms in the Atlantic basin, which includes the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico.

If the current low-pressure system develops into a storm, it will be called “Alex.”

“(Covington County) has been lucky in years past, but we don’t know that to be true for this year.

“With predictions the way they are, residents do not need to put off getting prepared,” she said.

“We do have the luxury of a bit of forewarning with today’s technology, but you can not wait until the last minute to ready your home or your family.”

One such example Carpenter cited was removing projectiles from yards and trimming trees.

“Take a good look at your yard,” she said.

“If there are things that can easily become airborne in a strong wind, put them away for safe keeping. If you see low-lying or dead branches, get those taken care of and removed before things get under way.”

Carpenter also stressed following through on securing personal documentation, obtaining up-to-date medications and refills, and getting supply kits ready.

“Doing these things is not a waste of time,” she said. “Don’t wait until the last minute. We all know how crazy things get when a storm approaches.”

Hurricane season officially began June 1 and runs until Nov. 30.

Forecasters are watching this storm system in the south-central Atlantic Ocean -- shown as an orange circle. It could become the first named storm of the 2010 hurricane season. | Graphic courtesy of NOAA