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NEWS | May 22, 2013

Hurricane season nearing - be prepared

By 628th Air Base Wing Emergency Management Operations

June 1 is the start of a six-month-long hurricane season for the Atlantic coastal area. Do you have a plan made for your family in the event Charleston gets hit with a hurricane? Are all the members in your family familiar with this plan? Do you have an emergency kit ready with a battery-powered radio, first aid kit, prescription meds and important family documents?
Hint: these are just a few of the items recommended in a basic disaster supply kit. Members of Joint Base Charleston should educate themselves on what items they will need and what resources are available to prepare themselves, their family members and their pets for this hurricane season.

Get a kit, make a plan, be prepared. Putting together an emergency supply kit for your home and for your vehicle(s) to use in the event of an evacuation is a must. All family members should know where the kits are located and what the family evacuation plan is. Some factors to consider when making your plan:

Where you and your family will go if you evacuate

Duration you will be sheltering for

What to do if you get separated from the other members in your family

Accessibility for family members with disabilities

Finding an evacuation destination that allows pets

Preparing your home

Communicating your plan with an out-of-area relative

Don't forget you must have a way to sign in to when you get to your destination to ensure accountability of you and your family. Also, have copies of important documents such as social security cards, proof of residency and insurance policies. Be sure to have your vehicle filled with gas and keep plenty of cash with you as credit card machines and ATM's may not work. Active duty members who live on the installation will evacuate when the Installation Commander gives the order, and individuals who live off the installation will evacuate when civil authorities give the order. 

Navy Family Accountability & Assessment System -
Army Disaster Personnel Accountability & Assessment System:

It's important to know specific terms associated with hurricane season, such as hurricane watch and hurricane warning.

Hurricane watch - announced when winds of 74 miles per hour or higher associated with a hurricane are possible within the specified area within 48 hours

Hurricane warning - announced when winds of 74 miles per hour or higher associated with a hurricane are expected within the specified area within 36 hours. A hurricane warning can remain in effect when dangerously high water or a combination of dangerously high water and exceptionally high waves continue, even though winds may be less than hurricane force.

The U.S. classifies hurricanes based off of a five-category system known as the Saffir-Simpson Scale. This scale provides guidance based upon sustained wind speed of a hurricane, and does not include storm surge. Use this list for reference:

Category one hurricane: Will have winds between 74 and 95 miles per hour. This hurricane will cause some damage, to include unanchored mobile homes, toppled tree branches, damage to power lines.

Category two hurricane: Will have winds between 96 and 110 miles per hour. This hurricane will cause extensive damage, including damaged mobile homes, roof and side damage to well-constructed frame homes, blocked roads, power loss.

Category three hurricane: Will have winds between 111 and 129 miles per hour. This hurricane will cause devastating damage, including extensive damage of home exterior and extremely limited availability of water.

Category four hurricane: Will have winds between 130 and 156 miles per hour. This hurricane will cause catastrophic damage, such as: destroyed roofs, uprooted trees, downed power lines, destroyed mobile homes and flooded beach homes. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for long periods of time. 

Category five hurricane: Will have winds more than 157 miles per hour. This hurricane will cause catastrophic damage to homes, will have power outages lasting from weeks to months, and will leave the area uninhabitable for long periods of time.

In addition to the Saffir-Simpson scale, the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Fla., works with Joint Base Charleston using a slightly different notification system called Hurricane Conditions (HURCONs). 

Hurricane Condition 5 - Runs from 1 June to 30 November. Preparations to be completed by 1 June

Hurricane Condition 4
- Winds of 58 mph or more are expected within 96 hours

Hurricane Condition 3
- Winds of 58 mph or more are expected within 72 hours

Hurricane Condition 2
- Winds of 58 mph or more are expected within 48 hours 

Hurricane Condition 1 - Winds of 58 mph or more are expected within 24 hours

Hurricane Condition 1E - Winds of 58+ mph & other dangerous conditions are present. All outside activity strictly prohibited.

Hurricane Condition Black - Life -threatening storm hazards passed, but damage may persist. ONLY emergency responders and Damage Assessment Team (DAT) personnel are released to move about.

All Clear - Destructive winds have ceased. Begin recovery operations and listen to the radio or television for information regarding resumption of work schedule and recall personnel as approved by the wing commander.

The Readiness and Emergency Management Flight is available to conduct more in depth hurricane briefings at Commanders Calls upon request. During National Hurricane Preparedness week, we will be holding several briefs, informational booths, and pamphlet handouts. The schedule for these events is as follows:

Air Base Theater:
May 28 9 a.m.
May 29 1 p.m.
May 30 5 p.m.

Forest City:
May 29  5 p.m.

Weapons Station Storm Pointe:
May 28 5 p.m.
May 29 1 p.m.
May 30 9 a.m.

Balfour Beatty:
May 29 5 p.m.

Please come and encourage your dependents to come to these briefings with any questions they may have. There will be personnel available during this time to help build your family plan as needed. We will have informational booths set up outside the Air Base Commissary, BX, NEX and Weapons Station Commissary on the 28th, 29th, 30th and 31st of May, 2013, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has a Web site dedicated to providing disaster information to the public. Visit for a full list of emergency supplies and how to make a disaster plan. Charleston County Hurricane Preparedness Guide: