When storms come, prepare for unexpected

Published 8:38 am Monday, September 17, 2018

While much of neighboring North Carolina is being assaulted this weekend by high winds and torrential rains, it appears our area will escape the brunt of the storm. The National Weather Service says we can expect some rain Sunday and Monday, but nothing like our neighbors to the east are experiencing or what we had been told earlier in the week to expect.
Storms don’t always give us much warning. But Hurricane Florence was an exception. North Carolinians as well as residents along the coasts of Virginia and South Carolina had a week to prepare for the monstrous storm. Forecasters have followed its movement and development from a tropical depression to a full-fledged hurricane. They have been warning us for days about Florence and her wrath.
Storm forecasters have every high-tech tool you can imagine to give residents proper warning and time to prepare.
They’ve got satellites, reconnaissance aircraft, weather balloons, drones, computer models and you name it. When a storm begins brewing 1,000 miles out to sea, they’ve got color-coded paths to project where it might go. Yes, we’ve come a long way from predicting the weather based on the Farmer’s Almanac, quirky animal behavior or our own aches and pains.
Hurricane Florence is a reminder that we all must be prepared — not just home and business owners, but emergency managers and those who ensure that the lights stay on and our roadways stay clear.
While Carter County and much of East Tennessee has been sheltered from this storm, it has not always been the case. We remember January 1998 when a deadly storm brought flooding conditions along the Doe River, killing six people. Three weeks later a blizzard hit the area, downing trees and knocking out electrical power to most homes in the county.
The January 1998 flood just happened, and happened rather abruptly. It caught people off guard. The same thing happened a couple of years ago when a thunderstorm hit in the Watauga Lake area, killing two people when a large tree fell on their camping tent.
We may not be hit by a hurricane and tornadoes are a rare occurrence in our community, but winter blizzards we are familiar with. We are also familiar with rain and wind storms. With winter coming on, now is the time to make sure you’re prepared for what could lie ahead.
Be sure your roof is in good shape. Make sure the trees around your home are trimmed. Refill the propane tank on your grills. Definitely, be sure you have back-up heat and flashlights. Inside, create an emergency stash of water and canned goods. Make a plan of what to do with your pets, particularly if you have to leave home. Put important papers somewhere safe and dry.
Hopefully, we’ll continue to be sheltered from the storm and enjoy God’s protective grace. And, hopefully, like the folks along the Carolina coast, we will have plenty of notice if there is a major storm.
Let’s hope for the best, but prepare for the unexpected.
In the meantime, to our neighbors in the Carolinas, our hearts and prayers go out to you.

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