PENSACOLA, Fla. – The Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola Emergency Management Office encouraged service members, their families and civilian employees to ensure their hurricane preparedness plans are finalized before the Gulf Coast hurricane season begins June 1.
Burt Fenters, the NAS Pensacola Emergency Manager, said preparation for any potential natural disaster is of paramount consideration, and the thousands of NAS Pensacola community members who could be impacted by a potential Gulf Coast hurricane should take the coming weeks to prepare.
“Hurricane Season Preparedness is a year-long process,” he said. “During the off-season (Dec. 1 through May 30), items that take time to incorporate into your plans such as storm shutter inspections and home hardening projects (hurricane strap additions) should take place. This time of year, individuals should be reviewing how to secure their belongings, checking their sheltering-in-place kits to replace renewable items and reviewing evacuation plans.”
Fenters advised that National Hurricane Preparedness Week, May 5 through 11, is a time to make final preparations for potential storms. He suggested that determining the types of hazards a potential hurricane could bring to your area – storm surge, rip currents, inland flooding, tornados and strong winds – should be the first consideration.
“Certain areas of Pensacola can be impacted differently than others,” he said. “The obvious damage that can occur from a hurricane are storm surge and wind, but inland flooding and tornados have also inflicted serious damage on houses and other structures during storms. People, to this day, still do not absorb the post storm reports from previous incidents. Inland flooding is the primary cause of death in a tropical system – not storm surge or wind.”
According to Fenters, NAS Pensacola community members should develop an evacuation plan, including a method of receiving up-to-date information through various channels. He said the NAS Pensacola Facebook page will post the most current information on any potential weather threat to the Pensacola area, and information contained on this page will be considered the official message from the air station.
Fenters also said NAS Pensacola community members to gather supplies before the hurricane season begins, reminding that things such as food and water – enough for each person in the household for at least three days – prescription medication, radios, batteries and mobile phone chargers can become critical items during an ongoing natural disaster. He also recommended ensuring vehicles remain filled with gasoline, and individuals have cash available, and to ensure maintaining a supply of pet food.
He added that upon return from an evacuation, individuals should ensure they bring perishables such as milk and eggs and maintain cash, as Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) might not be functioning.
Other best practices Fenters stressed include insuring individual auto and home insurance policies are current, and preparing homes and automobiles according to insurance policies. He also said that making sure you have your insurance policies on hand in the event of an evacuation could help during the recovery and claims process in the event a storm damages personal property. NAS Pensacola community members renting a house or apartment should consider the fact that although their landlord has insurance, their personal belongings might not be covered, but added that rental insurance is relatively inexpensive.
For individuals wishing to ride out the storm, Fenters stressed that strengthening one’s home can help protect from potential strong winds. Shopping for approved window coverings, collecting loose outdoor items such as patio furniture and trimming trees can help minimize potential risks to a home or other structure.
“NAS Pensacola community members are historically generous when helping out neighbors,” Fenters said. “There are always individuals in our community needing assistance before and after a hurricane – particularly elderly community members – and the NAS Pensacola community here has always helped those individuals [retirees] who are a part of our community who might need some additional assistance. Make sure you check on your neighbors.”
While storms might not seem an issue, the impact can be sudden and having an outline or plan of actions to take before, during and after a natural disaster is important for individuals living in an area all too familiar with the effects a storm can bring.
“The time to prepare for a hurricane is right now,” he said. “Although we hope something like this doesn’t happen, it’s imperative for you and your family to plan now. Write your plan out, because when a storm has the potential to make landfall near Pensacola, the chances of getting supplies, medicine and other needed items are not particularly in your favor.”
NAS Pensacola, referred to as the “Cradle of Naval Aviation,” is designed to support operational and training missions of tenant commands, including Naval Air Technical Training Center (NATTC), Naval Aviation Schools Command (NASC), the Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training (CNATT), Marine Aviation Training Support Groups (MATSG) 21 and 23 and is the headquarters for Naval Education and Training Command (NETC).