Not too late to plan ahead

Published 10:57 pm Tuesday, August 31, 2010

At Farm Fresh, Debra Courtney buys food and plenty of water. Emergency management coordinators recommend citizens do the same and check their emergency kit supplies to make sure they are replenished.

With a Category 4 hurricane on its way toward the United States, emergency management officials say it’s time to get your game together.

Whether the hurricane badly impacts the area or not, residents should replenish their emergency kits, have their emergency plans in place and stay informed about current weather conditions, according to Capt. Jim Judkins, Suffolk’s emergency management coordinator.

“People should be reviewing their personal family disaster plans and refreshing their supply kits,” Judkins said. “Even if it doesn’t hit, it’s good preparation to have in place for the season.”

When refreshing kits, Judkins said to apply special attention to making sure you have canned foods, new water, medications and prescription drugs and pet supplies.

“Water can become foul tasting after sitting too long in plastic jugs,” Judkins said. “Make sure to take the time now to get everything you need.”

An important part of preparing is ensuring an evacuation plan is in place.

It should include an out-of-town contact, because in-town communication may be down. All family members should have a cell phone, coins or a prepaid phone card.

“If you have had that out-of-town contact established, now is the time to call again to make sure it’s still in service,” Judkins said.

According to the www.Ready.gov website, the first important decision is whether you stay where you are or evacuate. Both scenarios should be planned using common sense and available information.

By visiting the city’s emergency management page under its disaster preparedness link and clicking the “flood information” tab, you can be prepared for the possibility of flooding, depending on what category of storm would hit.

“You should also consider (evacuating), too, if you’re living in a mobile home that isn’t tied down or have large trees surrounding your home,” Judkins said.

If a storm hits the area, Judkins reminds people to stay tuned to local media outlets.

Hurricane Earl “is projected not to be even half as bad as the nor’easter,” Judkins said. “If it stays on track, we’ll be able to breathe a big sigh of relief. Either way, people should know what they’re going to do and be ready to do it.”

Visit www.vaemergency.com, www.readyvirginia.gov or www.ready.gov for emergency tips and information.

Non-emergency numbers: Suffolk Department of Fire and Rescue (757) 514-7550 Suffolk Police (757) 923-2350

Emergency Preparedness Information: Division of Emergency Management (757) 514-7586 Emergency Operations Center (during disasters) (757) 514-7587

To report power outages: Community Electric Cooperative (757) 242-6181 Dominion Power 1-888-667-3000 Franklin Electric (757) 562-8568 Nights, weekends & holidays (757) 562-8575

To report water or sewer emergencies: Suffolk Department of Public Utilities (757) 514-7000