Be prepared for the start of hurricane season

Published 7:00 am Saturday, May 31, 2014

Sunday is the official start to the 2014 Hurricane Season and the most important tip for Pearl River County residents is to have a plan, said Director of Emergency Management Operations Danny Manley.

Manley said residents shouldn’t wait until a hurricane is in the Gulf of Mexico to make a plan. It’s something that should be done before hurricane season even begins.

He said each storm and family is different and those factors should be taken into consideration when developing a plan.

“The biggest thing, is that you need to look within yourself and see what you can handle,” Manley said.

He said if a resident can evacuate and possibly bring other people with them, then they should evacuate.

Rescuing residents stuck in their homes and answering calls to check on individuals that could have evacuated depletes the county’s resources, Manley said.

He said emergency responders and county employees are better utilized in cleanup and restoration efforts. If those responders are rescuing people from their homes, it reduces time and money that could be used elsewhere.

“Poor decisions a resident makes will take emergency response away from tasks that are detrimental during emergency situations,” Manley said.

He urged people who require electricity due to special needs to evacuate during a hurricane because the county can’t guarantee electricity service, a lesson they learned during Hurricane Katrina.

When creating an emergency plan, find an evacuation site that is north of Mississippi and that accepts animals, Manley said.

“Going to Hattiesburg is not an evacuation plan for a large storm,” Manley said.

Pearl River County SPCA President Maria Diamond said hotels should be booked ahead of time to allow pets to come along.

She said if a pet owner is evacuating the pets, need to evacuate with them. The shelter doesn’t board animals during storms and there is the possibility that local boarding places, like veterinarians, will not accept animals during hurricanes.

Diamond said if a pet owner is unable to find a hotel to evacuate to, find a family member or friend not in the path of the storm willing to provide a place to stay.

When evacuating, remember to bring enough food, water and any medications the pet may need, Diamond said.

Manley said larger animals and livestock that can’t be evacuated should be provided with enough food and water for an extended period of time.

Also, keep in mind how communication with friends and loved ones will take place.

Manley said Hurricane Katrina demonstrated what happens traditional forms of communication are not available.

He suggested utilizing resources like Facebook, Twitter and other social media websites as forms of communication.

Residents in neighborhoods and subdivisions should hold a hurricane preparedness meetings to discuss who would evacuate or stay during a hurricane.

Neighbors staying behind establish methods to contact those who evacuate to keep them informed on the situation.

Mobile home residents need to be mindful of the situations wind rating before a hurricane hits. If a home can only withstand 60 mph winds, that resident needs to evacuate.

All homeowners should evaluate their property for trees that could fall and cause damage during a storm, Manley said.

For more information on hurricane prepardness and other emergency situations, visits http://www.ready.gov.