Be informed, be ready: JBLE prepares for 2012 hurricane season
Pararescueman Staff Sgt. Lopaka Mounts receives a hug from a Texas resident during search and rescue operations after a 2008 hurricane. Hurricane Irene made landfall in the local area as a category one storm roughly one year ago and caused massive flooding, and downed trees throughout Joint Base Langley-Eusits, Va. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. James L. Harper Jr./Released)
Posted 8/30/2012 Updated 8/30/2012
by Senior Airman Jarad A. Denton
633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs
8/30/2012 - LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. -- It was only a year ago when a very large and incredibly destructive girl blew through Joint Base Langley Eustis, Va., and the surrounding area, leaving a disastrous wake everywhere she went.
Her name was Irene, and she was the fifth costliest United States hurricane on record.
A year later, JBLE residents are preparing for a new generation of hurricanes, which could potentially ravage the Virginia area. Senior Airman Asia James, an emergency management specialist with the 633rd Civil Engineer Squadron, encourages people to plan ahead to avoid getting caught unprepared at the worst possible moment.
"I see people waiting until the last minute to evacuate," she said. "They get out on the road when it's already flooded, and they get stuck. You have to know if and when you will evacuate before the storm hits."
James, who is a longtime Virginia resident, has seen her share of hurricanes pass through the area.
"The worst experience I had was in middle school," she said. "The utilities went out, and it flooded. We didn't even have an emergency kit."
Ever since that hurricane, James has taken steps to prepare for hurricane season. The Federal Emergency Management Agency also encourages people to prepare for possible hurricanes by first building an emergency kit and making a family communication plan.
According to the FEMA website, a disaster supply kit is a collection of basic items people may need in the event of an emergency. It can contain items like flashlights, weather radios, food and a contact list. Additionally, having fresh water and supplies that are not dependant on utilities could be helpful during an emergency. FEMA also encourages people to keep these items easily accessible in case an evacuation is called for.
In addition to having a kit prepared, James advised people to know the location of shelters in their vicinity. She also said knowing the rules of each shelter can make the entire experience easier. Below is a list of local shelters, basic rules and authorized items.
Shelters will be opened as required, and be based upon the course and severity of a storm, as well as the number of people using them. Not all shelters may be opened for a storm. Residents should tune to radio or television for announcements of shelter openings. The following are prohibited in emergency evacuation shelters: pets, alcohol and weapons.
Rules have been established for safety and welfare. The shelter manager has the option to enforce additional rules if circumstances warrant. If for any reason the shelter rules are not obeyed, individuals may be asked to leave.
· Sign in before being officially admitted to any shelter
· "Shelter Hopping" is not permitted
· Individuals are responsible for their belongings. Valuables should be locked in a car, or kept with them at all times. The shelter is not responsible for lost, stolen or damaged items
· Parents are responsible for controlling the actions and whereabouts of their children. Please do not leave children unattended.
· If individuals have a medical condition or are taking medication, please notify the shelter registrar for referral to the nurse.
· Noise levels should be kept to a minimum during all hours of the day. Quiet hours are observed between 11:00pm and 7:00am.
· Assistance in keeping the shelter neat and orderly is greatly appreciated.
Items to Take to Shelter
(Bring enough supplies for 3 days) Services Provided
· Bottled Water
· Canned or packaged foods
· Manual Can Opener, Cooler
· Paper plates, utensils, cups etc.
· Portable flashlight, batteries
· Battery powered radio, TV
· Sanitation supplies
· Folding chairs, etc.
· Change of clothing/footwear
· Blanket, sleeping bag, pillow
· Quiet games, toys, books, cards
· First aid kit: include medications
· Infant, elderly, disabled items
· Extra glasses or contacts
· ID, car keys, credit card, cash
Services Provided in Shelter
· Amateur Radio operator
· Public Pay Telephones
· Confidential shelter records
· Some food provided by the Red Cross
· Police Officer
Items Not Allowed In Shelter
· Pets of any kind (Check individual shelter for different rules)
· Loud Radios or TV
· Smoking, matches, lighters
· Alcohol, drugs or any illegal substance
· Weapons of any sort: guns, knives, chains
For more information on how to properly prepare for hurricane season, visit the Ready.gov website and check out the hurricane section. http://www.ready.gov/hurricanes