NEWS | May 24, 2012

Hurricane Season is coming

By Emergency Management Flight 628th Civil Engineer Squadron

June 1 will kick off what can be a very intense and unpredictable six-month-long hurricane season.

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.

It's important to know the difference between a hurricane watch and a hurricane warning.

A hurricane watch is an announcement of specific coastal areas that a hurricane or a developing hurricane condition poses a possible threat within 48 hours. A hurricane warning is issued when winds of 74 miles per hour or higher associated with a hurricane are expected in a specified coastal 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.

Putting together an emergency supply kit as well as a "go bag" in the event of an evacuation is a must. All household members should know where the kits are located and what the family evacuation plan is. Some items suggested are copies of prescription medications, required medical supplies, bottled water, non-perishable food items, a battery-operated radio, a first-aid kit, maps of evacuation routes and clothing and bedding. 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 ATMs 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.

The U.S. operates on a 5-tier system known as the Saffir-Simpson Scale for categorizing the severity of a storm and its potential storm surge. Use this chart for reference:

Category one hurricanes will have winds between 74 and 95 mph. This hurricane can cause minimal damage. It may also damage unanchored mobile homes, vegetation and signs.

Category two hurricanes will have winds between 96 and 110 miles per hour. This hurricane can cause moderate damage, including damaging all mobile homes, roofs, small crafts and cause flooding.

Category three hurricanes will have winds between 111 and 129 mph. This hurricane can cause extensive damage, including damaging small buildings and cutting off low-lying roads.

Category four hurricanes will have winds between 130 and 156 mph. This hurricane can cause extreme damage, including destroying roofs, taking down trees, cutting off roads, destroying mobile homes and flooding beach homes.

Category five hurricanes will have winds more than 157 mph. This hurricane can cause catastrophic damage, including destroying most buildings, destroying vegetation, cutting off major roads and flooding homes.

In addition to the hurricane scale, the National Hurricane Center in Miami works with Joint Base Charleston using a slightly different notification system called HURCONs or Hurricane Conditions.

Hurricane Condition 4: winds of 58 mph or more are expected within 72 hours

Hurricane Condition 3: winds of 58 mph or more are expected within 48 hours

Hurricane Condition 2: is winds of 58 mph or more are expected within 24 hours

Hurricane Condition 1: is winds of 58 mph or more are expected within 12 hours

Hurricane Condition Black: Severe winds have passed. All personnel remain in shelter until mission essential personnel can perform an initial damage assessment.

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 has Natural Disaster Handbooks and they are available for distribution. They can also be found on the Air Force Portal located on the Joint Base Charleston Readiness and Emergency Management Community of Practice. The Readiness and Emergency Management Flight will also provide Hurricane Preparedness Briefings at the following times and locations:

JB Charleston - Air Base Theater
· May 29 at 7 a.m.
· May 29 at 4 p.m.
· June 1 at 7 a.m.

JB Charleston - Weapons Station Red Bank Club
· May 30 at 7 a.m.
· May 30 at 4 p.m.
· June 1 at 7 a.m.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has a Web site dedicated to providing disaster information to the public. Visit www.ready.gov for a full list of emergency supplies and how to make a disaster plan. For other hurricane information visit http://www.charlestoncounty.org/.