From Gary Baron, Director, Emergency Management (EMD), North Stonington, Connecticut
Our collective focus for this time of year is always on the hurricane season, which runs from 1 June through the end of November (August & September being the most active months). This year’s hurricane season is forecast by NOAA to be at, or above 2017’s hurricane season of 10-16 named storms, with 1-4 becoming major hurricanes. These numbers will greatly be influenced by the warming/cooling of ocean waters. I’ll provide you with some helpful tips and reminders at the end of this article to help you prepare.
The North Stonington “Emergency Operations Center” (EOC) is now officially positioned within the North Stonington Center for Emergency Services (CES) municipal building, where it is activated during all Town emergencies. The EOC membership consists of representatives from our town’s collective emergency response infrastructure, which is organized, managed and directed by the EMD during declared emergencies. The EOC is where you’ll find us during all emergencies.
I held our first Connecticut Statewide hurricane EMD exercise in the new EOC on 16 June. We were very fortunate to coordinate the timing of this state-mandated exercise, to coincide with the official opening of the CES Building - at the official beginning of hurricane season. The timing was perfect, and I’m happy to report that everything ran smoothly!
OK...so what should we all be thinking about NOW, before a hurricane event confronts us? Here are several considerations for you to take action on, before a crisis hits:
- Stay informed; sign up for “CTALERT,” a Connecticut communication database that keeps you advised of emergency alerts by text, email, cell phone and landline (it’s free and easy!)
- Monitor weather channels for updates on forecasted conditions
- Establish a family communication plan
- Gather needed supplies for at least three days, BEFORE the storm becomes imminent; you won’t have time, and supplies may be depleted, if you wait too long
- Buy non-perishable food (human and pets)
- Buy medications (insulin, oxygen, etc.)
- Buy personal hygiene/sanitation items (5 gallon bucket and trash bags for use as a toilet)
- Buy water (1 gallon per person, a day)
- Fill your bathtub, as an additional water source
- Put together a first aid kit
- Buy batteries (flashlights, radio)
- Have candles and matches on hand
- Have cash on hand
- Gather important documents
- Buy gas for a generator (a good investment for our area; never use a generator, gasoline powered equipment, grill, camp stove inside; keep these devices outside and at least 20 feet from doors, windows, vents to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning)
- Fill propane tanks for outdoor cooking (if feasible)
- Assume that there will be extended power-outages; ask yourself: “What will my family need to survive this ordeal?” (You may not be able to leave, and emergency services may be unable to reach you!)
- Fill your car’s gas tank
- Keep cell phone charged
- If instructed to evacuate, be prepared to leave!
- If you remain, stay indoors and go to a windowless room on the lowest level that is not likely to flood (stay away from all power lines; do not take shelter in the attic.
- Do not attempt to drive through flooded streets; 6 inches of flowing
- Water can float a car; do not wade through flooded areas that may
- Be contaminated by dead animals, sewage, oil, debris, etc.
- Bring animals indoors
- You may have other needs/concerns specific to your family
- Click Here for FEMA's Secure Your Home for 2018 Hurricane Season information sheet
Remember: “It wasn’t raining when Noah built his arc!”