By Kavya Sundar, Intern, Office of Human Services Emergency Preparedness Response
As a fourth grader, my heart raced in excitement as I heard the overhead announcement while packing my notebooks. No school for three days? A hurricane was approaching the suburbs of Baltimore, and all I knew was that a storm shaped like a pinwheel meant no math homework and a yellow-bound Nancy Drew novel waiting to be opened at the foot of my bed.
My nine-year old brain lacked any knowledge of what a hurricane entailed, however as my family slept together in the basement of our home that night, I stayed awake, frightened by the crackling of branches and surges of wind that echoed through the walls of my home. The home I once considered to be indestructible seemed defenseless, to say the least, as Hurricane Isabel proved to be the toughest of battles in my mind.
To my relief, the walls of our home prevailed three days later, and I anxiously opened the door of my porch to survey the battle scars of nature’s combat. Although my mind ventured away from reality in those three days, I soon learned that Isabel was in no comparison to the summertime thunderstorms I frequently experienced; hurricanes have the potential to damage, destruct and shake the resiliency of a community.
As of 2013, approximately 83 million people live along the coastline states between Maine and Texas — thus approximately 26.3 percent of the nation’s population is susceptible to hurricane conditions. Hurricanes are not the sole agents of destruction, however. The National Weather Service reports multiple hazards associated with hurricanes, including storm surges, storm tides, heavy rainfall, inland flooding, high winds, rip currents, and tornadoes, all posing major threats to communities across the country.1
As hurricane season begins June 1, it is important to note that although we cannot prevent the occurrence of hurricanes, we have the ability to prepare and limit the extent of a storm’s destruction. Protecting your community begins with individual readiness — just as FEMA recommends, staying informed, knowing your risks and taking action2 goes a long way in responding to and recovering from disasters.
Start with simple steps — formulate and communicate an emergency plan with your family, and don’t forget to make it fun! This year’s Resolve to be Ready campaign3 provides multiple tips in organizing family activities, practicing an emergency plan and building your own disaster kit. You may also connect with your community and increase your involvement in various local and national projects, such as America’s PrepareAthon, a campaign that gathers thousands of participants across the country every year to practice drills and continue the conversation about disaster safety. It is never too late to prepare, so start now!
Are you at risk? Check out these websites and see how you can prepare for hurricane season!