Irma Leaves a Warning for Georgia Homeowners
Despite being downgraded to a tropical depression as it rolled through Georgia, Irma was not to be taken lightly. High winds and tornado activity tore off roofs. Storm surge isolated coastal communities. Flood water cascaded down streets. Trees toppled through houses. More than a million Georgians were left without power.
It has happened before. It will happen again.
The Georgia coastline sits along a major hurricane path coming up from the south Atlantic. The entire state is susceptible to tropical storm force winds, heavy rains, and flooding as storm events move inland.
There is more. On average, Georgians experience about thirty tornados a year. Add to that the most prevalent and destructive natural event in Georgia, severe thunderstorms, and there is reason to heed the warning that Irma left in her wake.
It is inevitable. It will happen again.
Nothing Replaces Preparedness
Along with the warning, there is a lesson. Nothing can replace preparedness. There is no way to divert a major storm like Irma, or even a localized thunderstorm or tornado.
Those who experience these disasters face confusion and disorientation. Even the strongest individuals may have trouble focusing on necessities when confronted with the loss of their home.
By making a plan now, you can provide for physical survival needs as well as long-term financial and disaster recovery and rebuilding. You can also ensure that you are ready to cope and remain focused on doing what is necessary during the disaster.
Survival Needs Come First
Gather necessary supplies for survival. FEMA recommends a minimum of three days of essential provisions and longer if you can afford it and have a place to store it. Basics include:
- Baby food, formula, diapers
- Hand operated can opener
- A gallon of water per person, per day for drinking and light washing
- Portable radio or television, and extra batteries to operate them
- Flashlight and spare batteries
- First aid kit
- Personal hygiene items like moist towelettes, toilet paper and hand sanitizer
- Matches or lighter
- Cooking utensils
- Pet food and supplies
- Medical needs like prescription medicines, eye glasses, contact lenses and cleaner, hearing aids and batteries
The quantity of emergency supplies you keep on hand may vary from family to family, but more is better than less. In a serious emergency, it can take days and even weeks for normal stocks of food and other essentials to return to store shelves.
Establish how you will communicate with every member of the family. Make sure that mobile phones are updated with the correct numbers of family members and community emergency numbers.
Don’t forget to include contact numbers for distant relatives and friends who may be called on by children if you are separated from them during an emergency. Make sure there is an agreed upon meeting place for family members to gather in the event that electronic communications fail.
Evacuation and Escape
Plan your evacuation routes in advance. Have alternate routes in the event that, weather, traffic, or road conditions eliminate the use of a single route. Know Where you are going and how you will get there.
Have Access to Essential Records
Ensure that important financial and medical records are accessible. Don’t forget account numbers, PINs, and passwords that you may need to access funds. Make copies of identification and credit cards and keep them secure and handy.
Medication prescriptions and medical records of family members may be needed before you can access your regular physician. Have copies ready for doctors in the location you have selected as your safe harbor during the emergency.
Prepare to Rebuild
Adequate insurance is the key to being prepared to rebuild and replace lost homes and belongings. Review your homeowner’s coverage now. An inadequately insured home can result in serious financial and loss, making it impossible to fully recover.
Even as Irma was blowing herself out of the state, Georgians began the process of rebuilding and repair. Those who have prepared will have a much easier time during the recovery period.
Disaster will come to Georgia again. Now is the time to prepare for it.