Hurricane Preparedness: Disaster plan

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 24, 2006

This story is the second in a four-part series.

By George L. Jones

The Selma Times-Journal

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The vast majority of people have no idea what they will do when a hurricane or tornado hits.

And even if they have thought about it, it was likely just a passing thought.

But in the face of an event that could endanger a home or even a life, that’s just not good enough.

“I’d probably say 97 percent of people don’t have a disaster plan,” said Dallas County Emergency Management Agency director Brett Howard. “If you go and ask everyone in your office if they have one, they probably don’t. People say, ‘Well, I thought about it, and I’ve got it in my mind, and this is what I’m going to do.’ But thinking about it at one point is not doing anything.”

Howard said a specific disaster plan needs to be in place for each home and business.

The first step is to know what type of vulnerabilities a building or geographic area have.

Some places are at greater risk for flooding. Other areas, like ones along the coast, are more prone to see hurricanes. People should know that as well as how well their homes stand up to strong storms and possibly damaging effects from them.

Also, there should be safe rooms designated in the house and an exit strategy in case an escape is required.

Families should also check their insurance because homeowners insurance usually does not cover flood damage.

It would also be helpful to take first aid and CPR classes. Emergency response crews will be stretched thin, and being able to administer basic medical treatment can keep a bad situation from getting worse.

“We get a lot of calls from people asking, ‘What do I do?'” They need to be thinking about this two or three days ago, a week ago, or a year ago while it was pretty and sunny outside.”

Not only should a plan be in place, it should be acted out – before the storm hits.

“Practice at least one or two times a year,” Howard said.