Hurricane season in the Atlantic officially began June 1st and will end November 30th. So, also officially, we are now in it. Peak hurricane season is from August to October, and within this peak period, early to mid-September is historically the pinnacle.
Because you can never quite trust Mother Nature, the occasional hurricane comes as a surprise outside these months. Every year, experts do their best to forecast the probability of U. S. and Caribbean major hurricane activity and landfall. And every year, the Lutheran Social Services Disaster Response (LSSDR) team braces and prepares for it.
LSSDR preparedness is a continuous cycle of planning, organizing, and assessment. LSSDR is a long-term recovery agency and a local affiliate of Lutheran Disaster Response (LDR). In the early stages of disaster response the situation “on the ground” changes rapidly, so LSSDR response is shaped by both the financial resources available to us and a clearer understanding of where we can best allocate those resources to have the greatest impact.
Personal Action Plan & Checklist
If you live near the Gulf Coast, are you personally prepared for hurricane season? The following checklist, furnished by the Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod of the ELCA, is a good reference to print and follow, particularly for families in the coastal areas of Louisiana and/or Texas. This list is for preparedness at the most basic level; for enough supplies to meet the household’s immediate needs during the first 72 hours following a hurricane. Why 72 hours? Because historically it takes, on average, a majority of most governmental, state, and private entities 72 hours to respond following hurricanes on the Gulf Coast.
- Discuss the type of hazards that could affect your family. Know your home’s vulnerability to storm surge, flooding, and wind. Locate a safe room or the safest areas in your home for each hurricane hazard. In certain circumstances, the safest areas may not be your home but within your community.
- If necessary, determine an escape route from your home and designate places to meet. (Note: these should be measured in tens of miles, rather than hundreds of miles.) Have an out-of-state friend as a family contact so all your family members have a single point of contact.
- Make a plan now for what to do with your pets if you need to evacuate.
- Create a DISASTER SUPPLY KIT. It should include:
- Proper identification
- Immunization records
- Moisture wipes
- Radio – Battery operated and NOAA weather radio
- Fully charged cell phone with extra battery
- A traditional (not cordless) telephone set
- Cash (with small bills)
- Extra keys
- Tools – keep a set with you during the storm
- Vehicle with a full fuel tank
- Pet care items
5. NON-PERISHABLE EMERGENCY SUPPLIES – Stock up on these:
- Snack foods
- Food for infants or the elderly
- Cooking tools
- Non-electric can opener
- Paper plates and plastic utensils
- First-aid kit
- Medicines – over the counter and prescriptions
- Toiletries and hygiene items
The following links are good sources for information about preparedness planning and disaster assistance:
- American Red Cross – Immediate Disaster Assistance – If you have immediate emergency needs for food, clothing, shelter or medical care, visit one of the local offices of the American Red Cross or call toll-free number: 1-800-Red Cross. Donate to the Red Cross to assist with disaster relief.
- National Hurricane Center
- Disaster Assistance – Apply for disaster relief or check status of your application
- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
- Hurricane Fact Sheet – A guide to help you before, during and after a hurricane
- How to Communicate During Disasters (FEMA)
- Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod
- Get Ready – National Preparedness Month — Tips
- Louisiana Citizen Awareness and Disaster Evacuation Guides
- National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD)
- Disaster Preparedness Tips from FEMA
- Preparing for Disaster: A resource from the Lutheran Disaster Response created to help congregations prepare for disasters
Staying Connected: One of the best ways to stay connected with LSS in the event of a hurricane or other natural disaster, is through social media. Look for continuous updates through facebook and Twitter, and on www.lsss.org. The National Hurricane Center will have the latest updates.