Be prepared during hurricane season

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 5, 2010

With the school year completed and Memorial Day a memory, southeast Louisiana residents cast already wary eyes toward the Gulf of Mexico, where the start of the hurricane season could potentially complicate the clean-up of the Deepwater Horizon spill.

The season has already been deadly, with Tropical Storm Agatha claiming more than 150 lives when she dumped nearly 3 feet of rain in Guatemala and created massive landslides.

Hurricane season, always an anxious six months, has the added intrigue this year of what effects the oil spill may have on approaching tropical systems.

Some so-called experts claim a storm in the Gulf of Mexico could actually help dissipate the oil; others predict calamitous consequences to the environment because the strong winds would carry the gooey black substance onto the shore and into inland waterways. Basically, as has been the case throughout this country’s worst natural disaster, and the second manmade disaster to cripple Louisiana in five years, no one knows.

As with any hurricane season, the sternest enemy is the unknown. Forecasters agree the weakening of El Nino is likely to produce an active Atlantic season, unlike the relative tranquility of a year ago.

Residents know and understand the drill. Now is the time to check and replenish the fundamental supply list of flashlights, batteries, portable radios, generators, etc.

Although those supplies are of obvious importance, the one supply not to overlook is common sense. Use it wisely.

In the event of an approaching storm, listen to the forecasters. Heed all evacuation orders and don’t try to be a hero by staying behind. Stubbornness often brings with it tragic results.

Map evacuation routes well in advance and plan what provisions will be taken.

If you are planning on staying, determine well ahead of time what supplies will be needed to survive a long-term loss of utilities.

Accommodations should be arranged well in advance for children and the elderly. The elderly, especially, are not as resilient in surviving the difficult living conditions after the storm passes, especially the loss of electricity.

Hurricanes Katrina and Gustov proved the River Parishes are not exempt from the fury of a major storm.

Unfortunately, the continuing erosion of Louisiana’s wetlands that is breaking down the coast’s final defense to an approaching hurricane has made this area more vulnerable than ever.

Residents must continue to be vigilant in their emergency preparedness. Plan ahead, stockpile essential supplies and hope the forecasters are wrong.