OUR POSITION: Was your house in order pre-hurricane?
While the Bahamas were battered with fierce winds and torrents of rain over the long Labor Day weekend, Southwest Florida enjoyed one of the loveliest weekends of the summer.
Our great fortune.
The early threat that Hurricane Dorian might shift course to the west brought some local cancellations — notably the annual Pioneer Days festival and parade in Englewood — and full mobilization of county government emergency management. A dry run-through which seemed to go smoothly.
School was back as usual Tuesday. The day before, firefighters from our area traveled to the east coast and stood by in case their expertise was needed. Our hats off to all who participated. Another tip to the agency and fire departments who coordinated the backup. Prepare for the worst; hope for the best.
The national focus naturally will forward to the coastline communities still in the path of the now-weaker storm, but the extraordinary devastation in the Bahamas will likely command most attention.
Please be generous with donations.
Meanwhile, we here should consider this a refresher in hurricane prep. It’s fair to assume, from the looks of supermarket aisles, that most people now have a cache of jugged water on hand. Keep them in the back room. Water doesn’t spoil.
The same with other dry goods, canned goods and provisions scooped up in a rush late last week. As many observed first-hand, the threat of trouble sent a lot of us out to the market and gas stations. Take note. This is what happens. When the threat gets real, we act. The reality is, many of us finally do the things we might have done much earlier.
That’s human nature. Granted. But there’s value in the exercise, so let’s review:
Was your home secure? Did you clear your property, or have plans to clear your property of potential projectiles last weekend, as projections dictated? Tree limbs trimmed? Boat secure?
Nonperishable food was put aside?
Flashlights and batteries? A gas lantern? A backup tank of propane for the grill? A generator? Backup gas cans for the generator? (Be careful with that.)
Good with meds? Did your pharmacy text you and tell you normal restrictions on monthly prescriptions were suspended in the emergency? (Ours did.)
Did you put your papers in one place? Did you put the papers in an airtight container?
Did you withdraw extra cash from the bank, in case ATMs went down? You can always redeposit.
Was there discussion in the family of possible evacuation up north or to a shelter? Top off the tank, just in case? Did you speak with a friend or a family member with a newer home farther inland about the possibility of an overnight or two?
And did you take a look at the emergency management pages on your county’s website? Charlottecountyfl.gov, or Scgov.net, or DesotoBOCC.com. If you care for a person with special needs, did you register beforehand with the Florida Special Needs Registry? Or print out a to-do checklist?
Another thing: It is now beyond doubt that climate change is causing harsher weather events and that stronger hurricanes threaten our peaceful existence on the Gulf Coast. Imagine the reality of a slow-moving Category 5 hurricane. Government policies and personal behaviors need to change to meet a growing challenge. Demand it.
And one more thing: Please, don’t forget the Bahamas. The people of those islands need whatever you can give.