Take precautions this hurricane season to avoid hardship

4 Jun 2005 | Pfc. Drew W. Barker

"The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s prediction for the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season is for 12 to15 tropical storms, with seven to nine becoming hurricanes, of which three to five could become major hurricanes," said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator at a news conference May 16 in Bay St. Louis, Miss. "Forecaster confidence that this will be an active hurricane season is very high."

Individuals living on Camp Lejeune need to follow certain procedures before, during and after the event of a hurricane impacting the base during the 2005 hurricane season, which began June 1, and ends Nov. 30.

Base tenants should plan a course of action for themselves and their families in preparation, before the threat of severe weather is present, according to Capt. Mark Evans, plans officer for Training and Operations Department, Marine Corps Base.

“Marines need to be ready for an emergency situation before a hurricane hits Camp Lejeune,” said Evans. “Making a plan of where to go, how to get there, and what to bring is a good start. If you’re planning on staying home during the storm, you need to make sure you’ve got supplies of non-perishable food and water for at least two or three days. A back up source of power, whether it’s a gas-powered generator or batteries, is a good idea.”

Residents of Camp Lejeune also need to decide ahead of time whether they are going to ride out the storm from their homes or take cover in one of the on-base emergency shelters, which include, the Camp Lejeune High School and Goettge Memorial Field House, according to Evans.

“There are advantages to both,” said Evans. “If you stay home, you may feel a little more secure or safe in familiar surroundings, but going to a shelter will provide more assets and supplies, especially if you haven’t prepared properly. Also, by going to a shelter, you don’t have to worry about losing water and electricity.”

According to the brochure, if you live in a mobile home or other insecure area, you should seek the nearest shelter. If your home is sturdy and on high ground, and you have taken appropriate actions, you may be well advised to stay at your residence.

People living on base should also stay tuned into local radio and television broadcasts, including Lejeune Cable Television Channel 10 for on base reports and updates in the days leading up to a hurricane, according to Marine Corps Base’s Hurricane Awareness & Preparedness brochure.

Marines also need to follow proper emergency procedures during a hurricane, according to Evans.

“A lot of Marines don’t understand how bad it could be,” said Evans. “If you don’t take proper precautions and take the right actions during a storm, the results could be disastrous.”

During a hurricane, residents of Camp Lejeune need to take shelter and wait out the storm. During the peak of a storm traveling should not be attempted for any reason short of a life or death emergency, according to the brochure.

“During a storm, you should stay put until the ‘all clear’ has been given,” said Evans. “Try and occupy yourself and those you’re with by playing games, reading or watching movies.”

Even after the “all clear” has been given, there are a lot of potential dangers that a hurricane can leave after the storm passes, according to Evans.

A hurricane can create flooding, downed power lines, unstable terrain, and a number of other potentially hazardous situations, according to Evans.

“The most important thing that residents need to remember is the seriousness of the situation,” said Evans. “It’s not something to play around in. We need to respect the power a storm can bring before, during and after.”

The three keys to surviving a hurricane are being prepared before the storm hits, finding somewhere safe to stay during the storm, and waiting for proper restoration of damages afterward, according to Evans.

"Last year’s [2004] hurricane season provided a reminder that planning and preparation for a hurricane do make a difference,” said Max Mayfield, director of the NOAA’s National Hurricane Center. “Residents in hurricane vulnerable areas who had a plan, and took individual responsibility for acting on those plans, faired far better than those who did not."