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Almost hurricane season: Make a plan now

It has been more than a decade – 12 years to be exact – since a major hurricane struck the United States.

The last was Hurricane Wilma, a Category 3 storm, in October of 2005. A dozen years of relatively minor storm activity is enough to make people complacent, which is all the more reason why, on this eve of the “official” 2017 hurricane season, it’s important to pause and at least think through a storm plan.

Right off the bat, we know that if a hurricane threatened the Gulf Coast and Covington County, local residents would need to find their own shelter until after the storm passed, as there are no plans in place for pre-storm shelters.

Additionally, emergency personnel advise locals to be prepared to fend for themselves for three days in the event that a storm hits. That means having food supplies on hand, as well as water resources.

A basic hurricane kit should include non-perishable food items, water, any needed medication, a first aid kit and some means of receiving weather information – preferably a battery-powered NOAA weather radio.

Forecasters at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center predict a 70 percent likelihood of 11 to 17 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 5 to 9 could become. An average season produces 12 named storms of which six become hurricanes, including three major hurricanes.

These numbers include Tropical Storm Arlene, a rare pre-season storm that formed over the eastern Atlantic in April.

Past experiences tell us that even a minor hurricane is a major thing if it’s bearing down on the place we call home. Spending time now talking with your family about how you’d react in the event of a storm can make dealing with an actually event much less stressful.