Alabama, Pike Co. to focus on

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 20, 2001

hurricane preparedness May 21-25


Staff Writer

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Hurricanes, over the years, have caused extensive damage in Alabama.

Those who endured the wrath of Hurricane Frederic in 1979 and Hurricane Opal in 1995 understand all too well the dangers these storms bring with them.

Hurricanes Georges and Danny also left lasting impressions as to how vulnerable citizens are to hurricanes and the need for preparedness.

Those storms have resulted in the loss of life and caused billions of dollars in damages, but taught citizens the importance of being prepared.

Gov. Don Siegelman has proclaimed May 21-25 as Hurricane Awareness Week in Alabama. This falls just prior to the start of hurricane season, which officially runs from June 1 through the end of November.

"Alabama faces the real threat of being directly or indirectly affected by hurricanes each year and these powerful storms can disrupt so many lives in so many ways," Siegelman said.

"We remember, not long ago, when Hurricane Danny parked over Mobile Bay, dumping almost 40 inches of rain on southwest Alabama, causing major flood damage. I urge the people of Alabama to take this awareness week and make preparations for safeguarding lives and property," Siegelman said.

The Alabama Emergency Management Agency, local EMAs and the National Weather Service join together each year to promote hurricane safety and awareness.

In the Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, there is an average of four tropical storms and six hurricanes each year during hurricane season. Hurricane forecasters are predicting an active season for 2001.

"Hurricane Awareness Week is a time for residents on the Gulf Coast and inland counties to review or make a family preparedness plan before the next hurricane strikes," said AEMA Director Lee Helms. "There is no way to predict when a major hurricane will occur, so you should be able to make quick decisions regarding where you will go, how you will get there, what you will take and when you will leave your area."

Pike County EMA Director Larry Davis said the lack of opportunity to make immediate decisions when a storm is approaching makes it necessary to plan ahead and be ready to evacuate, if necessary.

He also urged Pike County residents to gather supplies for emergency disaster kits that include a first aid kit and essential medications, battery-powered radio, flashlights, extra batteries, canned food and can opener, bottled water, sturdy shoes and work gloves.

Although Pike County is inland, it is still prone to strong winds, flooding and tornadoes that often accompany hurricanes, Davis said.