We dodged Debby, but we’re due

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Pardon the bad pun, but it looks like Debby continues “to do” havoc in Florida.

Outside Tuesday, the wind continued to whip through the trees – breezy reminders that Tropical Storm Debby is alive and churning in the Gulf.

Hundreds of Florida homeowners were waiting and watching as the system and its torrential rains and gusting winds hit their home. Thus far, the slow-moving storm has killed one person, dumped nearly 2 feet of rain in some areas and triggered flooding resulting in evacuations, rescues and road and interstate closures.

And Debby isn’t finished – forecasters warned the storm could bring another 8 inches of rain to the northern part of the state as it slogs through, headed from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean. Isolated areas in the storm’s path could see a total of 25 inches of rain from Debby.

Could you imagine 25 inches of rain falling in Covington County?

Ask anyone who lived through Hurricane Opal, and they can tell you. It means aluminum navigating the swollen rivers that separate state Hwy. 55 South at the Yellow River Bridge; power outages for a week-and-a-half and going without a hot shower for even longer than that.

I remember standing in the doorway of our Lockhart home, watching as tornadoes tossed pecan trees like toothpicks in the grove across the road.

Opal, a Category 4 storm, made landfall in October 1995 near Pensacola, Fla. Its 115 mph winds and 15-foot storm surge devastated the beach town. It also traveled up the entire state of Alabama, dropping its peak rainfall total of 19.42 inches three miles east-northeast of Brewton.

I’m not the greatest person at directions, but if memory serves me, that’s right down the road from us.

I wonder if locals realize how narrowly we missed the bullet with T.S. Debby.

County EMA Director Susan Harris had a great quote in yesterday’s paper. She said, “We shouldn’t turn our back on this storm.”

I think that’s great advice about any storm – from the thundershower packed with lighting with a threat of tornado to the tropical storm/depression and hurricanes of the future.

My daddy used to have this saying; it went something like this, “Proper planning prevents poor performance.” Of course, his was a bit more colorful, and I’m sure you can fill in the blanks.

Now that the storm clouds are gone, and the state’s first ever sales tax holiday for disaster preparedness items is on the horizon (July 6-8), it’s time to get ready for when – not if – but when the next storm hits home.

My simplified advice – prepare like you’re taking a three day camping trip in the middle of the Conecuh National Forest with no way to make it to the store.

So remember – basic emergency kits should include one gallon of water per person for three days; food for each person for three days; a NOAA weather radio; flashlight; first aid kit; garbage bags with twist ties; moist towelettes (or wipes as we say in our house); a manual can opener; maps; cell phone charges, inverter or solar charge; and for goodness sakes, extra batteries.

Get prepared now. You never know when the next storm will hit.