Visionary Science, Ethics, Law and Action in the Public Interest

State of Emergency: Planning & Disaster Preparedness Live Journal, Part II



Part II

I don’t get sucked into the 24-hour news cycle for storms. I check certain meteorologists’ personal blog sites, their postings of predicted models, and National organizations that track hurricanes and other storm systems. Most importantly, I prepare for the worst while hoping for the best. So, while the storm might possibly move further south and impact Maryland less than originally expected, I know that it’s Mother Nature and it’s still too early to tell what is going to happen.


In 2003 when Isabel hit Maryland, there were houses 2 blocks down from us that had at least 5 feet of water. The roads in our community were so flooded, we could kayak and canoe down them. In fact, this was how people checked on their neighbors, delivered supplies, and surveyed the rest of the damage to the surrounding area. I remember seeing peoples’ furniture being placed on top of their roofs—sofas, chairs, tables—all for safekeeping. Cars floated away, homes were condemned, people drowned.


The winds were enough to cause 7-9 feet of water to surge through low-lying streets and the nearly $1 billion in damages was unexpected. We didn’t get as much rain as was originally anticipated and there weren’t any mandatory evacuations, just recommendations to do so about 24 hours before the storm actually hit. It caught us off-guard and not many were prepared. The state also was not prepared for over a million people to completely lose power for a few days.


I don’t remember how long it took before we could see actual roads instead of temporary rivers, but I do remember being out of school for a few days, being instructed to be careful and conservative with how much water we were using—and I remember that people were devastated. Their faces, their bewilderment, their shock circulated through the 24-hours news cycle on a perpetual loop.


Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.


For my own personal preparedness, I have gone through my checklist of items (you can get your own checklist here on page 6), established a meet-up point with my husband, and my family also knows where we will be and how we can check in with each other. In Maryland we have a “Know Your Zone” program for evacuations. If an evacuation is called, we will leave when our zone is announced. We have everything we need in case of an emergency lasting a few days. I also have extra supplies for my neighbors and others we might meet along the way if we are evacuated.


Yes, we could be very lucky and only get a piece of this storm. However, there are others who will be dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Florence for months, even years to come. I think we can all agree that we would rather be “overly prepared” than caught off-guard.