By Allan B. Fraser, CBI, CPCA, Sr. Building Code Specialist, NFPA
This is the sixth in the ten part series on personal disaster planning.
Hurricane season for the northern Atlantic Ocean runs from June 1 through November 30, sharply peaking in late August through September. There are an average of 2.9 major hurricanes per year with a high of 15in 2005. Surviving a major natural or man-made disaster isn’t easy and requires a lot of planning. Usually more than we want to do or even think about. But once that disaster is on our doorstep it’s really too late to do the kind of planning we need to do.
In the last few issues, we talked about what events we’re likely to encounter, how much warning time we’ll have, how far are we likely to have to go for safety, how will we get to shelter, where is the shelter and now we need to talk about planning for how long we’ll be out of our home.
It may range from a few hours to forever. Forever?????? Yes forever! In the most extreme cases you may not have a home to go back to or even be able to rebuild in that location. This happened to numerous families along the Route 10 on the Mississippi shore of the Gulf of Mexico in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in August of 2005.
These homes along Mississippi’s gulf coast shoreline had stood for 100 plus years. They had been through many Class 5 hurricanes but none of them had had the wall of water Katrina delivered. These buildings were destroyed and the properties are no longer buildable so their families had to find new homes.
Of course this is the extreme, but what would you do if you had to evacuate your home for a week, or a month or six months? Where would you stay? Would you have clothes or be able to get them? How would you repair the damage? How would you know when or even if you could return? Would you have to change where you’re staying?
There’s a lot to think about and plan for. Former President Dwight D. Eisenhower is quoted as saying “Plans mean nothing, but planning is everything.” Thinking through the process makes us aware of what we need to do before we have to do it. Reading a plan when the event is bearing down on you will be of little help. We all need to plan and be prepared long before the event!
Part seven of the ten-part series will be in the next issue, December, 2017.