Fort Rucker officials urge planning as hurricane season ramps up

FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- September is National Emergency Preparedness Month, and individuals and Families should be aware of possible threats and prepare for challenging situations.

Officials will set up displays throughout various post facilities to educate the public in the next few weeks.

Sgt. Ted E. Bear will be painted in a Ready Army-themed outfit for part of the month, said Lt. Col. Michael Hughes, Fort Rucker emergency operations officer.

"People need to be prepared at all times," he said. "Be ready to support yourself."

Families should create emergency kits to have ready in the event of natural or manmade disasters, said Cindy Howell, Fort Rucker Weather Office assistant site manager.

The military's Ready Army list of recommended kit supplies is available at <a href="" target="_blank"></a>. Some items include nonperishable food, water, clothing, medical supplies and important Family documents.

People should establish emergency plans and procedures, and ensure they know how to follow them in extreme circumstances, she noted.

Families should discuss all possible hazards. Determining safe rooms in houses beforehand saves time in emergencies. Ideal places include rooms without windows. Pre-planned evacuation routes and out-of-state contacts are also important to establish ahead of time, Howell said.

Homeowners should check their insurance policies, since many companies do not automatically cover flood damage.

Those who want to be especially prepared should keep NOAA weather radios and extra batteries on hand, she said. Becoming first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation certified in advance of tragedies can also be beneficial during emergencies.

The Ready Army Web site offers advice for households with pets. Animal emergency supply kits are helpful and should include food, water, medications, leashes, carriers, toys and important documents.

Pet owners should find pet-friendly hotels or shelters in advance, as some locations do not allow animals. Pets should also have up-to-date ID tags or microchips.

Manmade disasters, such as terrorist acts, can occur without warning, said Michael Whittaker, installation antiterrorism officer. People should always be ready for the unexpected.

"Hope is not a plan. We have to prepare and be ready for these types of things," he said.
Post officials reinforce preparedness with annual force protection exercises and mass notification system drills. They also distribute readiness information through town hall events and senior spouses meetings, Whittaker said.

Weather is another constant and more frequent danger, with many thunder and lightning storms often occurring this time of year, said Howell.

"A good rule of thumb to remember is if you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be struck by lightning," she said. "With regards to flash flooding, motorists should never attempt to drive across a road that is covered in water. You don't know how deep the water is and could get swept away, or there may not even be a road beneath the water."

Other natural disasters can also take place and develop quickly.

"September is the peak of hurricane season," she said. "With hurricanes comes flooding, wind damage (and) tornadoes."

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officials predict an active season with 14-20 named storms, eight to 12 hurricanes and four to six major hurricanes, she said.

For more information on becoming prepared, visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16