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Hurricane prep week raises storm awareness

Hurricane Katrina, like Camille before her, has demonstratedthat Brookhaven’s inland location does not make the city immune tothe potential catastrophe of a major storm, and disaster managementofficials are urging residents not to let time dull theirmemories.

Officials are using Hurricane Preparedness Week May 20-26 tostress the importance of planning before a major disaster looms onthe horizon. Hurricane season begins June 1 and ends Sept. 30.

“I think Katrina is still on everyone’s mind and they realizehurricanes are not only on the coast now – that we could gethurricane force winds here,” said Clifford Galey, director of theLincoln County Emergency Management Agency.

Jim Craig, director of health protection for the MississippiDepartment of Health, said Mississippians should always be preparedfor a hurricane.

“For any disaster, preparation is crucial,” he said. “Discusshurricane preparations with your family, and work together toprepare a family disaster plan.”

A family disaster plan includes knowing where to meet, what tobring and evacuation routes, Craig said. It should also include howpets will be evacuated since many hotels will not allowanimals.

Craig suggested placing them in a kennel or veterinarian’soffice outside of the affected area in advance of the storm.However, if pets must evacuate with the family, plans shouldaccount for necessities – food, water and medications.

Those items should also be included in a family readiness kit,of course, he said. Family kits should be stored in a safe, dryplace and include first aid supplies, extra changes of clothes,bedding, hygiene products, batteries, flashlights, abattery-powered radio, tools, maps, cash and important documentslike insurance policies, licenses or stocks.

Foods in a readiness kit should be ready-to-eat, Craig said.Common items are canned meats, fruits and vegetables, canned juicesand soup and high-energy foods like peanut butter, crackers,granola bars and trail mix. Other common items are comfort foodssuch as cookies, hard candy, instant coffee and tea bags. Thereshould be enough food for a week in the kit.

Telephone numbers of people to call after the storm to let themknow you are OK and contact numbers to locations where otherfriends and family were evacuating are also important, Galeysaid.

He also suggested all family members know where and how to turnoff power, gas and water in the event of an emergency.

“It makes everyone’s job easier when people are prepared andhelps with a quick recovery,” he said.

Residents should also inspect around their home for loose itemswhen a watch or warning is issued, Galey said. All loose itemsshould be secured or brought into the home.

“Pick up anything that could fly around,” he said. “You can getinjured when things start flying around. Lawn chairs could bepropelled through a window.”

Experts are predicting an active hurricane season this year andhave forecast at least five major storms, which are category 3storms or higher, Galey said.

“Everyone in Lincoln County knows what they went through withHurricane Katrina and they have a good idea of what they need to doto prepare themselves,” Galey said.