Hurricane Irma, the most powerful Atlantic hurricane in recorded history, is currently making its way over the Caribbean and towards the Florida coast. Meteorologists are continuing to monitor the storm’s path, predicted to impact parts of the Southeast U.S.
Acting on a recommendation from the state’s Emergency Operations Command in anticipation of Hurricane Irma, Governor Deal issued a state of emergency for the following 30 counties: Appling, Atkinson, Bacon, Brantley, Bryan, Bulloch, Burke, Camden, Candler, Charlton, Chatham, Clinch, Coffee, Echols, Effingham, Emanuel, Evans, Glynn, Jenkins, Jeff Davis, Liberty, Long, McIntosh, Pierce, Screven, Tattnall, Toombs, Treutlen, Wayne and Ware Counties.
Make a communications plan
If your family isn’t together when a disaster strikes, you should know how to reach each other and where to meet up in an emergency. The Ready Georgia app also has an “I AM SAFE” text message tool that allows you to send a text message to emergency contacts in your disaster plan.
Build a Ready Kit
Put together a Ready Kit that includes the supplies you and your family would need for three days. Some items to include are sufficient water, non-perishable food, medications, important documents and any other essential items. Once you’ve gathered all the basic items, consider what unique needs your family might have, such as supplies for pets, seniors or family members with special needs. Add those items to your kit and start packing it today.
Know the location of your local shelter
In the event of an evacuation, have a plan for where you and your family are going. If you plan to go to a local shelter, have the address and directions printed out and in your Ready Kit. If you have a pet, check in advance to see if the shelter or hotel you plan to use is pet friendly. Most public shelters can’t accept pets due to health regulations, so plan accordingly.
Advance warning is the most powerful preparedness tool for severe weather. Every family should have multiple methods for receiving severe weather alerts, including at least one with an audible alert to wake you in the middle of the night if necessary.
There are many options for staying in touch with changing weather conditions:
– NOAA Weather Radio: Watches and Warnings issued by National Weather Service (NWS) air on these radios.
– Television Stations: Local or national news stations monitor and broadcast weather alerts.
– AM/FM Radio: Radio stations are required to air Emergency Alert System messages.
– Smartphone Applications: Numerous free and paid smartphone applications have been created to notify the public of severe weather. Some of these applications use GPS tracking on your phone and will notify you of severe weather warnings based upon your location. Ready Georgia’s free app provides severe weather alerts and also gives you mobile access to your emergency plan and other preparedness resources.
– Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA): WEA are emergency messages sent by authorized government alerting authorities through your mobile carrier. The alert system doesn’t require you to download an app or subscribe to a service. The WEA message will usually provide the category and time, the agency issuing the alert and what action you should take.
As Irma continues to make headway towards the U.S., please do not delay leaving if an evacuation is ordered for your area. The Georgia Chamber is keeping those impacted by this storm in our thoughts and prayers.
For more information on hurricane preparedness, visit the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency website here. For ongoing coverage of Hurricane Irma and where it’s headed next, visit www.weather.com.