31 May 2013

Be Prepared for Hurricane Season

It is that time of year again! Hurricane Season starts June 1st and ends November 30th. Get ready and be prepared. As the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” 

Q: What can you do to prepare yourself and your family?  
A: Here are 3 important steps to get ready for a hurricane:

  1. Be informed.    
  2. Make a plan.  
  3. Build a Family Emergency/Evacuation Kit.

The first step is “Be informed.”  Learn about municipal and county plans regarding Hurricane Season.  Here in Beaufort County we do not have a lot of roads that connect our islands with mainland transportation routes.  What evacuation route do you have to use?  What should you take with you? 
Be sure to review your insurance coverage and limitations before your need them! Property insurance provides protection against risks to property, such as fire and weather damage. There are different types of property insurance available to homeowners for disasters such as flood insurance, fire insurance, earthquake insurance, and natural disasters. Each type of insurance may require additional coverage and is separate from the normal homeowner’s insurance policy. Be pro-active and ask your insurance provider questions about what’s covered, what’s not, deductibles and caps on your policies before you have to make a claim.  

Step two is “Make a Plan.”  Authorities agree that families need to have an emergency plan and that they should have supplies and food to take care of themselves for several days. For guidance about disaster mitigation and recovery for individuals and family groups, we recommend:
  • “Prepare Your Home and Family”  http://www.redcross.org/prepare/location/home-family
  • “Be Red Cross Ready” is a series of videos narrated by Jamie Lee Curtis shows families how to assemble an emergency kit at http://arcbrcr.org/.
  • “Ready: Prepare, Plan, Stay Informed” http://www.ready.gov/ is designed to educate individuals how to prepare for and respond to natural disasters and emergencies.  If you have questions about how to get ready, call 1-800-BE-Ready.  
  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers a host of resources on their website at http://www.fema.gov including suggestions about insurance.
  • Visit the National Hurricane Center http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/  for live and latest weather updates in real time.
A corollary: Think ahead about how you will protect your own family’s cultural heritage.  It’s on you to protect your family treasures from loss.  Follow the LOCKSS principle: “Lots of Copies Keeps Stuff Safe” whenever possible. Spreading copies of key photographs and documents among family members, particularly those who live outside the geographical area in which you reside, minimizes the risk of losing the treasure forever.  And, you are likely going to have to choose what to take as there won’t be room for everything you treasure to go in your exit vehicle. Is it really practical to take “52 photo albums” in your car as you evacuate Beaufort County along with 150,000+ people?  (A real statement made by a participant during our “Taking Care of Family Treasures Workshop” in April).  

  • The “Resources for Emergency Planning and Preparedness” http://www.heritagepreservation.org/PROGRAMS/TFPlanPrepare.html by the Heritage Emergency National Task Force includes a section “Protect Family Treasures from Disasters.”  Read it.  Apply what you learn to your own situation and circumstances.    
Once you have assembled your emergency kit and selected your family treasures, act on your plan.  A plan is only as good as its execution.  In the midst of planning make sure everyone knows about the evacuation plan, where to meet and what to do when we are required to evacuate the area. Thoughtful decisions before an emergency event tend to result in better outcomes during and after an emergency event.   In other words, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Although it’s been awhile since the Beaufort area received a hard direct hit, hurricanes do happen here.  We may sit in the pocket of South Carolina (look at a map) and other parts of our coast tend to get more hurricane strikes than we have, it only takes one storm to wreak havoc.  The Great Sea Island Storm of 1893, Hurricane Gracie (1959), Hurricane Hugo, and the evacuation for Hurricane Floyd (1999) had a socio-economic impact on our county.  This just might be the year that we get another “Big One.”

The BDC has loads of materials to share about local hurricanes – online and in our special collections and archives Research Room:

For those who prefer viewing interesting images, join us for the “Sea Island Hurricane” presentation we're doing at St. Helena Branch Library in August. 

Don’t let the 2013 hurricane season catch you unprepared. 

(This entry was written with the help of Charmaine Concepcion.) 


bcoffin said...

The Great Sea Island Storm of 1893 by Bill and Fran Marscher is a great read for those looking to find out more information on this storm.

bcoffin said...

The Great Sea Island Storm of 1893 by Bill and Fran Marscher is a great book to read if you're looking for more info on this storm and how it impacted the Beaufort area.