September is National Preparedness Month. It is sponsored by FEMA to educate Americans on how to be prepared for and respond to all types of emergencies.
We were not prepared for Hurricane Hugo, one of the most intense hurricanes ever to hit the United States. It hit Charleston on Sept. 21, 1989, just before midnight. It was a Category 4 storm with winds up to 137 mph.
This newspaper covered the storm extensively – former Publishers John and Carol Mantle won state and national press awards for the coverage. On Sept. 22 at around 7 a.m. it was over Charlotte and surrounding areas, with winds measuring 60 mph.
Residents started cleaning up, but in some areas power was not restored for 18 days. Fallen trees and downed power lines were everywhere. It was horrifying. Chain saws could be heard for months after.
I learned an important lesson. We had no extra water and our supply of food was not adequate. We had no candles or even a hand-operated can opener. I vowed I would be prepared next time for any emergency.
Evaluate your family’s personal needs and make an emergency plan that fits your family.
If you are a senior, create a network of neighbors, relatives, friends and co-workers to aid you in an emergency. Prepare a disaster supply kit with at least three days of food and water.
Of course animals are effected by disasters. If you have to evacuate your home, DO NOT LEAVE YOUR PETS BEHIND! Domesticated animals most likely will not survive on their own in a disaster. If you have to go to a public shelter, pets may not be allowed, so plan for alternatives. Develop a buddy system with neighbors for your pets.
FEMA’s www. ready.gov website provides detailed instructions and you can find specific information important to your family and pets.
Be a force of nature – be ready.
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