Preparing for hurricane season
Published 7:00 am Friday, June 14, 2019
Hurricane season has just begun, and Picayune Fire Chief Keith Brown said everyone should have a plan in place in case of a hurricane.
“Make sure that you have a plan in place and supplies on hand to make sure that plan comes to fruition,” Brown said.
Families should prepare an emergency supply kit and develop family communication and evacuation plans, according to the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency hurricane preparedness guide. A designated friend or family member who lives outside of the state can serve as a point of contact during an emergency, according to the MEMA guide.
The primary evacuation route from Picayune or Poplarville is Interstate 59, while Highway 43 and Highway 26 serve as alternate evacuation routes, according to the MDOT 2019 hurricane guide. To assist Louisiana, MDOT can implement contra flow on I59 during disasters, but people should not delay their evacuation plans because that is not an automatic decision, according to the MDOT guide.
“Don’t wait until the last minute to get gas, supplies and all that stuff,” Brown said. “If we have a hurricane bearing down on us, everybody’s going to the store to get bread, gas, milk, and all those resources get depleted.”
An emergency supply kit should include: flashlights, a portable radio, a NOAA weather radio, extra batteries, non-perishable food, bottled water, first aid kit, prescription medication, bedding and clothing, blankets and towels, plastic dishes/utensils, rain jackets, sun screen, baby supplies, pet supplies, sanitary supplies, toiletries, copies of important documents, cash, emergency generator and a bicycle helmet, according to the MEMA hurricane preparedness guide.
For more detailed information on what to include in an emergency supply kit, visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency website Brown said. Ready.gov also has detailed information on building emergency kits. MEMA4kids.org offers additional resources for teaching kids about preparing for floods and hurricanes, according to the MEMA guide.
Residents should heed evacuation warnings from emergency management officials, Brown said and be aware of the weather.
As fire chief, Brown is the emergency manager for Picayune and works with county emergency manager Danny Manley, he said.
“Most of the time our moves interact with one another,” Brown said. “We work hand in hand to manage a disaster.”
Hurricane watches mean that a hurricane is possible, according to the National Ocean Service website, whereas a hurricane warning means hurricane conditions are expected.
During a hurricane watch people should monitor a storm’s progress and the advice provided by emergency officials via radio, television or even social media, according to the MEMA guide. They should also double check their emergency supply kit and fuel their vehicles.
During a hurricane warning, residents should let a friend or family member outside of the state know about their evacuation plans, according to the MEMA guide.
Before an impending hurricane makes landfall, residents should set refrigerators to the coldest setting, fill a tub with water, shut off propane tanks connected to a home and board up windows, according to the MEMA guide. During strong winds, take shelter in a small interior room away from windows.
After a storm, it is important to stay on firm ground and avoid drinking tap water until it is confirmed that the water is not contaminated, according to the MEMA guide.