As the October issue of Tideland Topics was going to press, Hurricane Irma was bearing down on Florida, Jose had reached Category 4 status, and Katia was impacting Mexico, all in the wake of Harvey, which left such devastation in Texas. It was a stark reminder that peak hurricane season had arrived with nearly two months left to go.
In many ways, we are better prepared today than ever before for disasters. Social and online media have greatly improved the ability of emergency officials and your own electric co-op to get credible, actionable information out to the public. Emergency disaster drills are routinely conducted at the local, state and national levels to practice and fine tune procedures among all the agencies and organizations that have a role in the response effort.
If there is one area we all may come up short it is in our own neighborhoods. Do you know your neighbors? Do you have each other’s contact information? With so many seasonal homes in Tideland territory it can be especially challenging to get a handle on what homes are or are not occupied at any given time.
There are several online resources that can help you set up a neighborhood disaster response team. You’ll need one or two people willing to serve as team captains. Invite neighborhood families to a get together to begin creating your community inventory. Who’s who? What resources does each have that could contribute to the larger community pool of resources? Invite local emergency officials to attend your community meeting to offer advice and provide disaster relief tips. Ask your local insurance agent to talk to the group to learn more about policy coverage and how to initiate a claim. Tideland will also be glad to send someone to answer your questions about how electricity reaches your neighborhood and how restoration priorities are established.
One of the best workshops we’ve had for our own employees was one regarding chainsaw safety. While so many citizens want to help clear downed trees after a disaster so emergency personnel and utility crews can access roads, proper training is essential to prevent accidents.
Talk with disaster relief agencies in advance to find out how you and your neighbors can volunteer should you be fortunate enough to escape personal damage. It is invaluable to those organizations to have an available pool of local, pre-screened volunteers they can call on when disaster strikes. Local volunteers do not have to be housed and fed if they can return to their homes each night.
Most importantly, stay safe. Don’t take unnecessary risks. You are important to your friends and family. And you are an important part of our co-op community.
Learn more about your cooperative at tidelandemc.com