Being ready beforehand critical when storms strike
Sgt. Daniel Loeffler and his team of paratroopers from 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division wade through the flooded streets of the French Quarter in New Orleans, during a patrol following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Fort Rucker officials say flooding is a possibility here if a major storm hits.

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (May 31, 2013) -- For anyone who has survived the devastating effects of severe Gulf-effect storms, merely mentioning the word hurricane can produce a palpable response.

This response isn't just from those who live on the beach, but from those who live inland as well. Empirical evidence reveals that damaging winds and excessive amounts of rain can be as damaging as any storm surge.

As part of the NOAA Hurricane Preparedness Week, which ends June 1, Fort Rucker officials are warning residents to stay vigilant to changing weather conditions.

Residents should have an emergency supply kit, said Cindy Howell, Fort Rucker meteorological technician. Items to include in the kit are three gallons of water per person, three days non-perishable food, any necessary medications for three days, a first aid kit, ID cards, cash, gasoline for engines and generators, flashlights with batteries, battery-powered radio and weather receiver.

She also recommends that people have an emergency plan. Residents should know the location of a safe room in the places they go most. Familiarization with emergency evacuation routes and knowing how to prepare a home for a storm, such as boarding up windows and securing outdoor objects, is also important.

Howell said if a tropical cyclone were to strike near Fort Rucker, residents should "stay indoors and away from windows."

After the storm, Howell said residents should assess the damage to homes.

"Be on the lookout for downed power lines," said Howell. "Use generators and chainsaws safely. In the event of a power outage longer than 4-6 hours, refrigerated food may be spoiled. If you are evacuated, do not return home until you receive the all-clear from local officials."

Howell said that while Fort Rucker is not likely to suffer the same effects that coastal areas endure in hurricanes, the damage rendered during these storms can still be severe.

"Our main threats here at Fort Rucker are heavy rain, flooding, strong winds and tornadoes," said Howell. "There are some low-lying areas that are prone to flash flooding. Power outages are pretty common during and after big storms."

Fort Rucker Weather Operations posts weather watches and warnings on unit's Facebook and Twitter pages. Fort Rucker Weather Operations also has a mobile app that can be found at www.ftrucker.mobi.

Willie Worsham, Emergency Management Specialist at Fort Rucker's Operations Center, said residents on Fort Rucker can also tune in to cable Channel 6 on base or radio channel 1640 AM for updates. If severe weather happens while service members are at work, a desktop alert will pop up for those connected to Fort Rucker's intranet.

He added that Fort Rucker is ready to protect personnel and equipment from inclement weather as it appears.

"Fort Rucker has recently completed its emergency stack plan (for aircraft) and has taken all necessary steps that can ensure the safety of all personnel and assets," wrote Worsham in an e-mail.

Page last updated Fri May 31st, 2013 at 15:39