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Preparation, common sense will make Gustav manageable

Friday’s three-year anniversary of Katrina passed rather quietlyhere, partly because Brookhaven and Lincoln County have recoveredfrom the 2005 storm and partly because emergency response officialsand citizens were busy getting ready for another unwelcome visitornamed Gustav.

As Gustav churns in the Gulf of Mexico, weather eyes are fixedon trying to determine his uncertain path. Weather predictions puthis landfall anywhere between the Texas coast and the Floridapanhandle early this week.

Having experienced and lived through Katrina, coastal residentswere less concerned about where Gustav would land and more worriedabout making sure they are out of his way. Hotel rooms were bookedsolid for this week and area shelters stood ready to welcome thosenot fortunate enough to secure a hotel room.

Locally and on the state level, officials were urging citizensto remain calm and take necessary precautions such as filling upthe gas tank, obtaining sufficient food for a few days andassembling emergency kits with medicine, weather radios, importantdocuments and other necessary items.

The importance of being prepared cannot be understated.Remaining calm and not panicking as the storm approaches is anothermessage that residents should heed.

Should Gustav force coastal residents to relocate, Brookhavenand Lincoln County should be ready to accept the fleeing visitors.Their tensions will no doubt be running high, and a welcoming smileof a local resident offering a hand will be appreciated.

For local residents, calmness can take the form of followingresponse officials’ advice and not “freaking out” at the slightestdisruption of our daily routines.

Recalling Katrina, one example of staying calm would be in thearea of water supply. Three years ago, when officials urgedresidents to conserve water, they instead apparently heardconsume and started filling up bathtubs and othercontainers. This only added to unfounded fears that water was inshort supply, when in actuality there was no problem.

We should all be prepared, but common sense – along with a gooddose of humor when needed – will go a long way toward making hisunwanted event much more manageable.