BILOXI, Miss. -- The 2007 hurricane season starts in eight weeks, and forecasters say this hurricane season could be nearly as destructive as 2005, the worst on record. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) remind Mississippi residents to begin their emergency preparations now.
"As we continue the recovery from Hurricane Katrina, we need to be mindful of the lessons we've learned. Now is the time for individuals to take responsibility for being prepared for the next hurricane season," said Dennis Kizziah, acting director for FEMA's Mississippi Transitional Recovery Office.
"With all the information and assistance that is readily available, there really is no substitute for being aware and getting yourself and your family ready, especially now in the days before hurricane season begins," said Mike Womack, director of MEMA.
FEMA and MEMA recommend taking the following steps to prepare for hurricane season:
Develop a family disaster plan and know how to stay safe in a hurricane.
- Discuss what your family should do when a hurricane comes ashore and where you might go in an evacuation - to a shelter, hotel or to stay with family or friends. Don't forget about pets. Some shelters will not permit them, so plan in advance what to do with them.
- Know and review your evacuation routes. Keep a detailed map of Mississippi as well as a map of evacuation routes in your car.
- Develop a family communication plan. Identify a friend or relative in another state or city to serve as a point of contact in case family members are separated.
Put together a disaster kit and store it in a portable container in case of evacuation. The kit should include:
- At least a three-day supply of food and bottled water for each family member;
- A manual can opener;
- Battery-powered radio and flashlights with extra batteries;
- First aid kit including family members' medications;
- Hygiene and personal care items;
- Emergency contact list and phone numbers;
- Pet supplies;
- Copies of important papers including insurance policies and bank account information;
- Emergency cash or credit card in the case of an evacuation with little notice.
Protect your home and property:
- Purchase flood insurance for both your home and its contents as well as property insurance against strong winds. Renters can also purchase flood insurance for their apartment's contents. Review your insurance coverage with your insurance agent, and update your coverage amounts. Although flood insurance may be purchased throughout the year, remember there is a 30-day waiting period before coverage begins.
- Hurricane straps and shutters are generally cost-effective measures. Consult a building contractor, home improvement store or the FEMA Web site ( www.fema.gov ) for specifics.
- Elevate utilities or appliances - even the entire home.
- Reinforce the roof, windows and garage against strong winds. Keeping them in place could lessen overall damage during a hurricane.
FEMA coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.
Disaster recovery assistance is available with...