We really dodged a bullet this week. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for many, many of our neighboring communities.
Even though we didn’t take a direct hit, this is a clear message that occasionally our number comes up. The tough thing is that if you didn’t evacuate and nothing happened, it reinforces the idea that it’s not worth leaving when a storm threatens.
And if you did evacuate and come home to no damage at all, there’s a tendency to think it wasn’t worth the inconvenience, effort and expense. But all you have to do is look to the east and you see what can happen with these storms.
Right now, there are more psychological factors at work than storms. We’re all stretched and frayed from COVID, socio/political/economic factors and nearing the end of a busy, crazy summer. When planning for this storm, there was, understandably, quite a bit of resistance to acknowledgment that this could be a serious thing and we needed to take quick, decisive actions to make sure we were ready as we could be.
It’s not that anyone didn’t want to do the needed work; it was more that many of us felt we just didn’t have the bandwidth to take on yet another stressful situation. But fortunately, we have a pretty well thought out hurricane response plan that has specific actions for each department.
So, for example, Stewart Beach has specific things that need to happen when a forecasted Category 3 hurricane is 72, 48 or 24 hours out.
Plans like this are really similar to why people have a coach for sports. If you’re a swimmer and you’re halfway through your workout, you start hurting. There’s a temptation to let up or cut it short. That’s when the coach starts yelling and tells you to pick it up or gives you some validation and encouragement. A good emergency response plan is like a coach.
A good emergency response plan is a template. It allows for the ability to react to each different crisis while still holding you to the general course of what needs to get done. And like a good coach, it reminds you of all the little things you have to do to achieve your goal, so you don’t forget important things.
Our coach/emergency plan made sure all lifeguard towers, trash cans and porta-potties were off the beach by the time the heavy winds hit. All the other groups that manage our town, businesses, parks, roads and emergency response groups did the same thing. All of this was choreographed so that everything would be ready by the time the storm hit, so we could all focus on protecting life and property without other distractions.
We should all create our own emergency plan to coach us through these things. It’s easy in the heat of a disaster to get tunnel vision and forget little important necessities. That plan and a “go bag” and you’re ready for coastal living.