By David E. Hubler
Contributor, EDM Digest
So far, the score for the 2017 hurricane season is Tropical Storms 4 (Arlene, Bret, Cindy and Don), Hurricanes 0.
The latest potential hurricane, Tropical Storm Don, degenerated into an open wave Tuesday night near the Windward Islands in the southeastern Caribbean Sea. Even better news is that the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami is forecasting no tropical disturbances during the next five days.
Nevertheless, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Air Force are ready to launch their hurricane hunter planes. These aircraft will search for severe storms all along the southeastern U.S. into the Caribbean.
The NOAA WP-3 aircraft’s mission varies from reconnaissance flights for the NHC to research flights for planned science programs. The WP-3 is loaded with instruments to measure many different atmospheric properties in and near a hurricane. It also has three radar systems, including two Doppler radars for better visibility of the winds and rain inside storms.
The Air Force HC-130 aircraft’s primary mission is to fly through a hurricane, measure its wind speed, and drop a variety of meteorological instruments into the eye and eye wall of the storm.
Data from both planes help NHC forecasters to determine a storm’s size and strength and to create computer models to make better estimates of the storm’s path.
NBC Channel 4 in Miami has issued a hurricane guide that includes numerous do’s and don’t’s if a hurricane is heading your way.
What to Do in a Hurricane
- Have a detailed hurricane plan that includes a list of medicines you and your family take, and have a month’s supply of each medication.
- Make sure all family members wear medical alert tags or bracelets to identify their disabilities or medical conditions.
- Keep all windows in your home closed.
- If you are ordered to evacuate, move to a safe place as close to home as possible. Tell someone outside the storm area where you will be.
- Fill your evacuation vehicle’s gas tank well ahead of the storm.
What Not to Do in a Hurricane
- Do not go outside when the eye of the storm passes over the area.
- Do not attempt to drive through high water that covers roads and highways.
- Do not go near fallen power lines or any puddles near them.
- Do not run generators indoors or in an attached garage.
- Do not go to a hospital for shelter. Hospitals are for people who need healthcare treatment; they are not equipped to act as shelters.
- Do not tranquilize your pets. They must stay alert to survive.
- Do not risk getting stuck in traffic or bad weather.
Lessons Learned From Hurricane Katrina
Following the massive destruction and human tragedies caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, government planners and first responders reassessed how to manage large-scale natural disasters with a view to permanently preventing the errors that made Katrina a major disaster.
Although hundreds of thousands of New Orleans residents had been evacuated before the storm hit, there were still tens of thousands of people left in the city without shelter, food and medical care, the Voice of America reported.
Some were trapped in flooded houses, while others made their way to a central evacuation facility, the Superdome sports complex. VOA said. “But the arena quickly proved inadequate for dealing with thousands of evacuees. In hindsight, some observers say helicopter air drops of food, water, and medicine should have been done immediately.”
Another lesson from Hurricane Katrina was that radio and telephone systems were so badly damaged in the first few days after the storm, that public safety units had difficulty talking to both their own members and other emergency responders
Government operations analyst Alane Kochems at The Heritage Foundation told VOA that a major flaw in disaster response plans is not ensuring that the injured have adequate medical personnel and facilities.
“One of the things we have a horrible system at is catastrophic medical response,” she says. “You know, tsunami-size and Katrina-size disasters. We don’t know how to deal with that. Restructure [is needed] so there’s a better focus on infrastructure.”
About the Author
David E. Hubler brings a variety of government, journalism and teaching experience to his position as a Quality Assurance Editor at APUS. David’s professional background includes serving as a senior editor at CIA and the Voice of America. He has also been a managing editor for several business-to-business and business-to-government publishing companies. David has taught high school English in Connecticut and at Northern Virginia Community College. He has a master’s degree for Teachers of English from the University of New Hampshire and a B.A. in English from New York University. David’s 2015 book, “The Nats and the Grays, How Baseball in the Nation’s Capital Survived WWII and Changed the Game Forever,” was recently published in paperback by Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.