OUR VIEW: Prepare NOW for hurricane season
It all happens like clockwork this time of year. Newspapers – like this one – put out the special hurricane issue that has a lot of information that really can be very useful. The scientists announce how busy the hurricane season will be, and everybody tells you to get a plan.
We’ve been blessed for quite a few years now.
Storms have threatened but turned. Temperatures got too cool in one place or the steering currents made storms somebody else’s problem.
And now we’re back to the month of June, and the ever-present question of whether this will be the year the worst of predictions come through. We know – as you will from perusing these pages – that the experts say we are in for a busier hurricane season than usual. More named storms mean more of a possibility that something bad can happen.
But as anyone who lives here in the Bayou Region knows, you don’t have to have a busy season. It can be a really light season. But if that one storm puts a big bulls-eye on your community, the misery will be certain. It’s not always the wind or the rain that make things bad overall. It can be what happens afterward, when the electricity is out and houses swelter. Gas pumps remain closed and water systems shut down. It’s not a crisis until it happens to you. And when it does you will hope that you planned.
In one story that appears in this issue, Sheriff Jerry Larpenter makes a telling observation. With the local economy in such a bad shape, people are going to be less likely to want to spend money on a hotel if they decide to evacuate. Which means the decision to evacuate will come slow in some cases. And even if someone says yes, they will leave here so that they can stay safe and comfortable until it’s safe and comfortable enough to return, they might not have money for a hotel.
So take the sheriff’s advice. Start putting some money aside just in case. It’s a rough thing to really want to evacuate and not have enough money for gas.
If that happens, then be mindful that there are options for folks who can’t travel in private vehicles. Check these pages. Get familiar.
Don’t just make a plan. Make several plans. Plan what you will do if that car doesn’t start. Plan what you will do if you don’t have that hotel money. Check and double-check on what you have done to make things safer.
We know it sounds preachy. But we say it because we care.
Speaking of caring, we need to give some credit here to Earl Eues, Terrebonnes’s TOHSEP director. For many years Earl has been riding up and down the bayous, looking for danger, looking for solutions. Trying to plan for the unplannable. And it sounds like they are getting a lot better at it.
Parish President Gordon Dove, who can rattle off statistics about water levels and pump pressures like a mathematician, deserves credit for letting the professionals do what they do, and for giving them the resources they need.
Sheriff Larpenter and his team are storm veterans, ready to take on the worst. He has bought equipment out of his budget that keeps us even more ready.
But in the end it all really comes down to you and to all of us individually. If you haven’t made your own plan, make it today. It’s much easier to make clear decisions when it is all in the advance – maybe months in the advance – of howling winds, driving rains and stabbing debris.
Be sure to put cash on the list because ATMs may not be working when you need them the most. And also make plans for the pets. As you will learn in these pages there are some good options you can choose from. As with people, it is easier to plan for pets in advance of the emergency.
Those whose job it is to keep us all safe have undoubtedly done their part.
We also have to take responsibility for ourselves and those we care about.
It means getting prepared. It means preparing to start. And it all starts now. •