Now is the right time to prepare for hurricanes

Those of us who were here last year remember watching Hurricane Irene climb the coast and appear to head right to us. The weather broadcasters were predicting several different routes Irene might take as it traveled north, and all of them involved the storm dumping its rain and power right on us. Many of us, particularly in the coastal towns, fled for higher ground, boarded up windows and strapped down anything outside that could be strapped.

Somehow, we escaped the real rage of that storm — it wrapped around us and hit locations to the south and north of us, but we managed to avoid the worst of it. However, that does not mean we will be as fortunate next time around.

June 1 marked the start of the Atlantic hurricane season, and we’ll be in the midst of it until about Nov. 30. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting a near-normal hurricane season, with 9 to 15 named tropical systems — of those, four to eight could strengthen into hurricanes. Two named storms had already formed along the Atlantic coast before the official hurricane season got under way on June 1.

We’ve been fortunate here over recent decades. Oh, we’ve taken our share of abuse from some winter nor’easters, and we usually get some kind of impact from the hurricanes that make their way up the coast, but we don’t appear to be in the direct natural path of the Atlantic coast hurricanes. That, however, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take them seriously.

“All it takes is one hurricane, even a tropical storm, to cause serious damage and take lives,” said Joseph L. Thomas, director of Sussex County’s Emergency Operations Center. “We should all do our part to see that doesn’t happen.”

Obviously, there’s not much we can do about altering the course of a storm, but we can take steps to make sure we are as prepared as possible in the event a hurricane does come right at us. And now, when things are mild, is the time we should be taking the time to put together an action plan.

Point reporter Laura Walter, with the able assistance of summer intern Beth McClain, put together a list of items to prepare in case of a storm, along with things to consider in advance, such as knowing evacuation routes, prepping your home and belongings before a storm hits and setting up a network of out-of-town family and friends you can reach out to if a storm comes. That story is on the front page of this week’s paper, and we hope it is something you will read carefully and hold on to in case a storm heads our way.

Again, there isn’t a whole lot we can do if a hurricane or tropical storm decides to hit us on the collective jaw. But we can prepare, and we can make sure we are ready to handle it to the best of our abilities. Our town councils, county and state governments, and federal bodies are preparing year-round for potential storms. Isn’t it worth a little time preparing your own home and family?