The arrival of Hurricane Sally nearly two years ago has shocked even veterans of the most prepared for tropical weather: Although it lingered in the Gulf of Mexico and declining in strength, the eye of the hurricane made landfall on Gulf shores and began to slowly churn through Baldwin County causing a widespread outbreak. ruin.
It was such a climate shock that officials, at the start of the 2022 hurricane season, want coastal Alabama residents to remember it as they craft preparation plans for what could be an active season.
“With Sally, the National Weather Service told us Sunday night we’re going to have 30 inches of rain, but the public kept saying, ‘It’s just a low (category) 1 cat,'” said Zack Hood, director of the Met Office. Baldwin County Emergency Management Agency.
“It didn’t resonate with them that it might be Cat 1, but we’re talking about 30 inches of rain,” Hood said. “This is historic. All major river systems in Baldwin County have surpassed their flood records and surpassed the 2014 floods.”
“My view is that there is a challenge in trying to get the audience to understand impact versus category,” he added.
The chances of a major hurricane occurring somewhere along the US Gulf Coast are high during this year’s season, which lasts until November 30.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, there is a 65% chance that the 2022 hurricane season will be characterized by “above normal” activity with an above-average forecast of 14 to 21 named storms. This number includes six to ten hurricanes and three to six major hurricanes.
In Baldwin and Mobile counties, county officials are pointing to apps and text alert systems that they say will provide real-time updates and warnings to residents.
Both counties have emergency management agencies with their own apps, and both agencies provide updated information on social media. Baldwin County has a “Baldwin Alert” notification system that provides users with important information about severe weather, releases of hazardous materials, unexpected road hazards and closures, missing persons, and evacuations.
In Mobile County, the EMA’s website includes details about evacuation routes, hazards, and response planning, among other things. The county also has a free app connected to the 911 center.
Both counties have links to the FEMA’s “Ready.gov” website, which includes a collection of emergency preparedness tips during hurricanes. Also includes pet grooming tips.
Other cities are encouraging residents, especially those who have recently moved to the fast-growing region, to be aware of buyback badges and to gather enough supplies that they can be used for the first several days after a storm.
In coastal Alabama, a popular saying goes: The first 72 hours are on you.
“While we hope we don’t take a direct hit from a storm, we advise everyone to be prepared,” said Mark Ingram, vice president of corporate services and public relations for Baldwin EMC – the facility that covers coastal Baldwin County. “It’s critical to have a plan with your family and family and make sure you have an emergency kit to think about for those first 72 hours, in case of extended outages.”
The area’s three major utility companies encourage residents to visit their websites for hurricane resources, safety tips, and planning preparation. They include Baldwin EMC, Riviera Utilities, and Alabama Power.
All three utilities have resources that publish the location of the outage. The websites also include a range of links to tips on maintaining an emergency kit, among other things.
“We provide accurate and timely communications to our customers when severe weather impacts our region,” said Jonathan Porter, senior vice president of customer operations at Alabama Power. “We know that our customers look to us to restore service as quickly as possible when an outage occurs, and we are committed to providing real-time updates on outage conditions and expected recovery times.”
Hurricane preparedness tips, provided by the three facilities, include:
- Update and verify contact information with utility providers. Inform the companion provider if a family member is dependent on a life-saving medical device.
- Cut trees, which can help reduce damage to the power grid by improving tree structure and tree health. Local tree specialists can help people identify risks and reduce damage before the storm hits.
- Define evacuation routes early. Develop alternate routes in case the main evacuation route contains closed roads.
- Set an eviction deadline, but no matter what is in your plan, all eviction orders from local officials must be complied with.
- Determine a place to meet after a hurricane, in case family members or friends break up.
- Make a list of emergency shelters, especially if you leave at the last minute.
- Help elderly family members prepare for the storm.
- Prepare your home and yard. Cover windows with plywood or stormboard, and bring in or tie outdoors such as patio furniture and hammocks.
- Gas the vehicles before the storm arrives.
- Keep mobile devices charged.
- Assemble an emergency kit that includes the following: flashlight with new batteries, radio (or portable radio) with new and extra batteries, candles, holders, bottled water, matches, non-perishable food, handy can opener, paper plates and paper utensils, waterless hand sanitizer, charcoal grill With lighter charcoal, blankets, a wind clock, first aid kit, extra medication, infant care kits, masking or duct tape, chlorinated bleach, drop cloth plastic sheet, toiletries, fire extinguisher, and pet food.
- The water suggestion includes drinking one gallon per person per day for at least three days.
- A safe place to keep important things, such as papers and mementos.
- Develop a storage plan for boats or recreational vehicles.
- The facilities also encourage generator safety. Here are some tips:
- Never use a generator in enclosed or partially enclosed spaces. Generators quickly produce high levels of carbon monoxide.
- Never attempt to run home wiring by plugging the generator into a wall outlet, a practice known as “feed back.” It is considered extremely dangerous and can present an electrocution hazard to utility workers and neighbors served by the same utility transformer.
- Buy enough fuel to run a generator for a few weeks.
- Do not store fuel indoors or anywhere near the generator.
- Check the power and amp requirements of the devices your generator will be running to ensure they can handle them. Connect the devices directly to the generator. Use a heavy duty rated outdoor extension cord that is rated (in watts and amperes) at least equal to the sum of the connected equipment’s loads.
- Keep the generator dry and do not use it in the rain or in wet conditions.