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Are you ready for hurricane season?

Hurricane Preparedness graphic with information about hurricane preparations and planning. (U.S. Air Force Graphic by Jessica L. Kendziorek)

Hurricane Preparedness graphic with information about hurricane preparations and planning. (U.S. Air Force Graphic by Jessica L. Kendziorek)

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --

Hurricane season is less than a month away, starting June 1. Are you ready?

May 3-9 is National Hurricane Preparedness Week and the Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunters are normally participating in the Hurricane Awareness Tour in order to promote preparedness and ensure everyone is aware of the destruction that a hurricane causes.

With the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, shutting everything down, the 403rd Wing’s 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron wants to remind people that planning and preparing in advance of a hurricane can make a difference in how you cope before, during and after the storm.

“Just like we ensure the planes and aircrew are ready for hurricane season, it’s important to be prepared at home as well,” said Capt. William Simmons, 53rd WRS pilot.

Some preparedness tips include:

Know your hurricane evacuation area. Will you be required to evacuate? If so, make an emergency plan that everyone in your family knows and understands. If someone in your household has a disability be aware of any additional help that you may need.

Stock emergency supplies. These supplies should include enough for your entire household, from medications, disinfectants, face coverings, and pet supplies. Keep them in a go bag or trunk.

Recognize warning and alerts. Receive real-time alerts from the National Weather Service and from your local community.

Review and gather important documents. Make sure you have copies of your insurance policies, personal documents, such as identification cards, social security card, medical, and any other important paperwork. Keep a copy on a password protected digital space also, in the event you cannot access your paper copies.

Prepare your home. This can include boarding windows, readying hurricane shutters, clean drains, gutters and yard. Store any outside furniture to prevent items from becoming airborne debris. Make sure you charge electronics in case of power outages and have a backup power ready.

“Part of my family’s preparedness is restocking our supply kit and reviewing our evacuation plan,” said Simmons. “If I am gone flying into a storm mission, I want to know my family is as safe and prepared as possible.”

So while everyone at home is preparing for a storm, the 53rd WRS crews fly into the eye of the storm to gather data by releasing a dropsonde. The dropsonde collects temperature, wind speed, wind direction, humidity and surface pressure and sends that data back to the aircraft. The crews also collect surface wind speeds and flight level data. The information is compiled and is transmitted to the NHC to assist with the storm warnings and forecast models.

“We ask that people pay attention to these forecasts and heed the evacuation orders of the local government officials,” said Maj. Mark Withee, 53rd WRS navigator. 

Once the storm reaches land, the Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunters remain standing by in the event the storm goes back out to sea or another storm forms.

During this time some tips of surviving during and after the storm include:

Know whether you have to evacuate or can stay home.

If evacuated. Know the local evacuation routes, emergency shelter locations, and let someone know your plans. Don’t return to the area until the local authorities deem it is safe to return.

If you stay. Remember to stay in an area above the local floodplain, stay indoors away from glass doors and windows. Stay in a windowless room on the lowest level that is not likely to flood. Also never use a generator or gas powered equipment, to include tools, grill, camp stove or charcoal burning devices inside your house, they should only be used outside.

Post-disaster clean up. Keep yourself safe by not wading in floodwaters, which can contain debris like broken glass, metal, sewage, gasoline, oil, downed power lines and dead animals. Avoid entering any building without an inspection and do not use electrical equipment if it is wet or if you are in water. 

Always wear the appropriate protection equipment, to include gloves, safety glasses, rubber boots, and facemasks. If your house has any water damage from a storm remember to air out the house by opening all doors and windows, move porous materials such as mattresses, couches, chairs out of the house, tear out any flooring, drywall, insulation, and electrical outlets. Also clean out any remaining debris and mud.

Stay healthy. Remember to throw out any food, including canned items that were not maintained at the proper temperature or has been exposed to floodwaters. When in doubt, throw it out. Avoid drinking tap water until you know it is safe, and clean and disinfect everything that got wet.

“It is important to know your resources; before, during and after a storm,” said Amy Lee, 403rd Mission Support Group emergency manager. “You can go to https://www.fema.gov/ and https://www.ready.gov/ for additional information and tips."