Andrea, the first named tropical storm of the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season, formed in the Gulf of Mexico on June 5 as this week’s Town-Crier went to press. While we have no way to know if Tropical Storm Andrea will develop or fizzle, it serves as a reminder that now is a good time to get prepared.
Experts predict a busy hurricane season this year with 18 named storms, nine hurricanes and four intense hurricanes. But even if we are spared a direct hurricane hit for the ninth year in a row, the memories of Tropical Storm Isaac, which dumped nearly 15 inches of rain over two days last August, ought to motivate residents to get their storm preparations underway.
Many were left stranded by and unprepared for Isaac’s relentless rains. Several previous editorials have underscored the need for a comprehensive regional drainage solution — especially as it relates to The Acreage. But residents need to do their parts, too.
If you don’t have a plan for what to do if a storm hits, make one now. Will you need to evacuate? For those planning to stay at a local shelter, Seminole Ridge High School and Palm Beach Central High School are the two American Red Cross hurricane shelters serving the western communities.
For those who don’t feel safe staying home, it’s important to be prepared as early as possible. Figure out the best route to your destination and get a head start. The last thing you want to do is race against the storm or get stuck in traffic. If you’re remaining in your home, prepare for a possible lengthy power outage. Stock up on necessities such as water, batteries, candles, matches and non-perishable food items. Avoid the long lines and short tempers that accompany those who wait until the last minute to get to the grocery or hardware stores.
Ensure that your home will be secure by purchasing hurricane shutters (or plywood, if that will work) and covering up any holes in your roof, garage door, etc. Make sure your yard is picked up and trim any vegetation that needs trimming now. Once a storm warning or watch is issued, it’s too late.
If you have any prescriptions you can’t live without, be sure to get refills as soon as possible. Never wait until the last minute; that can be as dangerous as any physical threat from the hurricane. Because we’re increasingly reliant on cell phones, and many people no longer have landlines, it’s important to keep all batteries fully charged and have backups as well as car chargers.
One new way to keep track of storms and of any damage created by storms this year is to use the new smart phone application developed by the Palm Beach County Department of Emergency Management. The disaster and recovery information tool or DART can be found at www.pbcgov.com/dart.
For more information on hurricane preparedness, visit the National Hurricane Center’s web site at www.nhc.noaa.gov.