By Patrick YoungJune 24, 2019
The Liberty County Emergency Management Agency and Lowes of Hinesville proved planning for the worst doesn't have to be stressful at their 2019 Hurricane Preparedness Expo, June 14.
The event took on a festive atmosphere in their attempt to educate the public about severe weather awareness - complete with colorful pavilions, the smoky aroma of barbecue, and engaging information booth vendors.
Fort Stewart Emergency Manager, Randal "Mack" Mcpherson, said community partnership was key to the success of the event and disaster preparedness was critical to the community.
True to that message, community vendors shared information the subject.
Liberty County EMA Director, Larry Logan said the challenge to the community, was knowing when to evacuate. He said the area evacuated in 2016 with Hurricane Matthew and again in 2017 with Hurricane Irma in 2018. In both cases, though the area didn't have a direct hit, there was significant damage due to tornadoes, wind and heavy rain.
Long County EMA Director Edward Brewer was also on-hand, and echoed Logan in his concerns.
"After Hurricane Matthew, we (Long County) went about eight days without power and four without water services," Brewer said, adding it was really hard on those who didn't evacuate.
But he said prior emergency planning and community support helped mitigate the threat.
"We had many of our key roads cleared within a couple of days," Brewer said, noting the National Guard was very helpful in clearing debris and providing potable water for the community.
At many of the booths, individuals were advised to help reduce the threat by making plans and doing risk assessments. Mike Shaver from a local tree service who participated in the event, said high winds and water could affect trees in your immediate area differently - whereas an oak tree with shallow roots may fall, pine trees would be more apt to snap.
Michael D. Naro, store manager at Lowes said this was the second year they hosted the expo. And agreed the subject was important.
"You don't want to start thinking about how to respond to an emergency when you are in the middle of one," Naro said. To help, Lowes gave away a generator to one of the attendees, valued around $500.
Community members can learn more about Severe Weather Preparedness by checking out the Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield Severe Weather Preparedness guide on the installation website at https://home.army.mil/stewart or accessing the information from the installation app, available free on Google Play or ITunes.