Be prepared — and keep an eye on Irma

Published 6:49 pm Friday, September 1, 2017

For the past week, the news has been inundated with photos and videos of catastrophic flooding in southeast Texas. There have been many stories of heroism — people going beyond the call of duty to help their neighbors. JJ Watt, a player for the Houston Texans, has singlehandedly raised more than $13 million for relief efforts; “Mattress Mack,” otherwise known as Jim McIngvale, opened his Gallery Furniture store, and invited those in need of shelter to ride out the flooding on his high-end beds and sofas; hundreds of people in trucks with john boats in tow, travelling to the disaster area to search for the stranded in flooded neighborhoods.

There is no doubt that in a country that seems to be divided in many things, there remains a common desire to help one another. There is also no doubt that if such a storm were to hit Beaufort County, the reaction would be the same.

Houstonians, and those residents of the surrounding towns, had no idea that Hurricane Harvey would dump more than four feet of rain in some areas, two feet in others. Just as six years ago, residents of Beaufort County had no clue that Category 1 Hurricane Irene would linger over eastern North Carolina and devastate many low-lying areas.

On Harvey’s heels is Hurricane Irma, a storm that went from a tropical to Category 3 in a short period of time. Right now, potential tracks for Hurricane Irma have the storm making landfall everywhere from Mexico to Canada, with all the East Coast in between — it’s far too early to tell where it will land, if at all.

But it’s a storm to watch. These hurricanes that form near the Cape Verde Islands and feed off warm water all the way across the Atlantic have the potential to be large and strong — Hugo and Floyd were both Cape Verde hurricanes.

Preparation is key. There’s a saying: “Prepare for the worst; hope for the best.”

Right now is the time to think about a hurricane plan and get all those supplies in order. Now is the time to figure out where to go if a Category 4 or 5 storm is barreling down on eastern North Carolina. Make a plan that includes not only food, water and supplies, but what scenario would require heading for higher ground and what the plan would be then. That plan should include finding ways to communicate with loved ones in the case of a total blackout and how to charge cellphones if there’s no electricity for several days.

No one in Houston expected the extent of Harvey’s devastation as the storm was making landfall. They now know better. While those people deserve plenty of sympathy and support, there’s something to be learned from their experience.

Be prepared — and keep an eye on Irma.