June 2, 2003 — Hurricane season is here and weather forecasters are predicting a very active season. Virgin Islands residents are strongly encouraged to start immediately preparing for the anticipated turbulent season, said a release from the American Red Cross.
"Every year, coastal communities suffer the tragic loss of life and property because of hurricanes which can devastate our islands with destructive winds, heavy rains and flooding, and storm surges," said Bill Young, the emergency services director for the American Red Cross in the U.S. Virgin Islands. "Because we know that our region is at risk every year, particularly this year, it is vital that we work together to keep our families safe by preparing for hurricane season."
The following are some simple, common-sense preparedness steps that every resident can do that may save your life and the lives of the ones you love.
Prepare a Personal Evacuation Plan
Identify ahead of time where you could go if you are told to evacuate. Choose several places — a friend's home in another town, a motel or a shelter. Get a good map and be familiar with your community's evacuation routes. Listen to local media broadcasts or NOAA Weather Radio for the latest storm conditions. If advised to evacuate, do so immediately. In case you have to evacuate to a Red Cross shelter, be sure to bring medications, extra clothing, pillows and blankets and other hygiene and comfort supplies for all members of your family. Be sure to also make advance preparations for your pets, which are not allowed in Red Cross shelters.
Assemble a Family Disaster Supplies Kit
Have emergency supplies set aside for all members of your household, including emergency medications, non-perishable food and a non-electric can opener, bottled water (at least three gallons per person), a battery-powered radio, flashlight and extra batteries, extra clothes, important documents, cash and credit cards, a first aid kit and other special items for infants, elderly or disabled family members and pets.
Prepare for High Winds
Make trees more wind resistant by removing diseased and damaged limbs, then strategically removing branches so that wind can blow through. Install permanent shutters on your windows and add protection to the outside areas of sliding glass doors. Strengthen garage doors and unreinforced masonry. Remove debris from your yard. Move or secure lawn furniture, outdoor decorations or ornaments, trash cans, hanging plants, and anything else that can be picked up by wind and become a projectile.
"With hurricanes, in a way, we are fortunate, because advance warning systems give us time to evacuate threatened areas or secure our homes and businesses when a storm is imminent," Young said. "However, instead of waiting until a storm is threatening our community, the time to prepare is now."
For more information about preparing for hurricanes, call the local American Red Cross headquarters in the Virgin Islands at 774-0375.
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