HURRICANE PREPAREDNESS MONTH

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THE COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS
EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF PUBLIC SAFETY AND SECURITY
_____________________________

MASSACHUSETTS EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY
400 Worcester Road Framingham, MA 01702-5399

 

          FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 20, 2015                                  
          CONTACT: Peter Judge, MEMA PIO
  (508) 820-2002
          peter.judge@state.ma.us

         GOVERNOR BAKER PROCLAIMS JULY “HURRICANE PREPAREDNESS MONTH”

FRAMINGHAM, MA - Governor Charlie Baker has proclaimed July to be Hurricane Preparedness Month. To help promote the importance of understanding the potential impacts hurricanes and tropical storms can have on the Commonwealth the need to prepare ourselves, our families, our homes and our businesses. Although the Atlantic Hurricane Season runs from June 1st through November 30th, the vast majority of tropical storms and hurricanes that have impacted our region have occurred during the months of August and September.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) seasonal outlook forecasts a below-normal number of hurricanes this season.  However, it is important to remember that it only takes one storm to severely impact an area. For this reason, it is important to begin preparing now.  

It is also important to note that the Commonwealth needs to prepare for tropical storms as well as hurricanes.  History has illustrated that tropical storms can also produce devastating impacts, including heavy rainfall, deadly storm surge, and flooding. When Hurricane Sandy made landfall in New Jersey and New York the system was actually downgraded to a tropical storm due to the decline in wind speed.  None the less, the storm caused significant damage to New York City and devastating impacts to communities along the New Jersey shore.  Additionally, the Commonwealth recently experienced firsthand the impacts a tropical storm can have when Tropical Storm Irene produced significant flooding in Central and Western Massachusetts. More often than not, water, not wind, poses the greatest risk to life and property.

All Massachusetts residents need to prepare for the possibility that a hurricane or a tropical storm will impact the Commonwealth this season.  The first step to preparing yourself, family, home and business is to learn more about the hazards associated with hurricanes and tropical storms, including storm surge, heavy rain, coastal erosion, inland flooding, and widespread power outages, visit the Know Your Risk section of MEMA’s website.

Know Your Evacuation Zone

MEMA encourages people who live, work or vacation in a coastal community to go to the Know Your Evacuation Zone interactive map on MEMA’s website to find out if your home or place of work is in a hurricane evacuation zone. Prior to a tropical storm or hurricane making landfall, local or state officials may call for people who live or work in designated evacuation zones, which are areas at risk of storm surge flooding, to evacuate. If evacuations are necessary, public officials will use the designated zones (A, B, or C) to inform residents who need to evacuate prior to the storm making landfall.

Build an Emergency Kit

Building an emergency kit is an important component of personal preparedness.  It is particularly important during hurricane season, as there is the threat of extended power outages, flooding, and impassable debris-covered roads. Emergency kits should include items that will sustain you and your family in the event you are isolated for three to five days without power or unable to travel to a store. While some items, such as bottled water, food, flashlight, radio and extra batteries, first aid kit, medications, sanitation items and additional clothing should be in everyone’s kit, it is important to customize the kit to meet your needs and the needs of your family, as well as necessary pet supplies.

Create a Family Emergency Communication Plan

Families should develop a Family Emergency Communications Plan in case family members are separated from one another during a hurricane or other emergencies. The plan should address how you will communicate with one another and how your family plans to reunite after the immediate crisis passes. A Family Emergency Communications Plan helps ensure everyone’s safety and minimize the stress associated with emergencies. Plans should include the name of a relative or friend who has agreed to serve as the Family Emergency Communications Plan contact person.  It is important to remember that texting or social media are often a viable means of communication when telephone service is disrupted during and after a disaster.

To ensure you will be able to reunite after a disaster, identify safe meeting places both in your neighborhood away from your home. In addition, Create a Plan to Shelter in Place, and Create a Plan to Evacuate to keep you and your family safe whether you "stay" or "go".

Stay Informed

It is also important to closely monitor media reports and promptly follow instructions from public safety officials as a storm approaches.  Information on severe weather watches and warnings will be available from media sources, the National Weather Service, a NOAA all-hazards radio, MEMA Social Media and website.  It is important to learn whether local authorities will use other communication and alerting tools to warn you of a pending or current disaster situation.

MEMA utilizes Massachusetts Alerts to disseminate critical information to smartphones. Massachusetts Alerts is powered by a free downloadable application that is available for Android and iPhone devices.  In addition, before, during or after a major storm, Mass 2-1-1 is available if you have questions or need information on emergency resources.  Mass 2-1-1 is the Commonwealth’s free, 24/7 primary non-emergency telephone call center during times of disasters and emergencies.  It is confidential, multilingual, and TTY compatible.

MEMA is the state agency charged with ensuring the state is prepared to withstand, respond to, and recover from all types of emergencies and disasters, including natural hazards, accidents, deliberate attacks, and technological and infrastructure failures. MEMA is committed to an all hazards approach to emergency management.  By building and sustaining effective partnerships with federal, state and local government agencies, and with the private sector - - individuals, families, non-profits, and businesses - - MEMA ensures the Commonwealth’s ability to rapidly recover from large and small disasters by assessing and mitigating threats and hazards, enhancing preparedness, coordinating response operations, and strengthening our capacity to rebuild and recover.

For additional information about MEMA, go to www.mass.gov/mema. Also, follow MEMA on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MassEMA; Facebook at www.facebook.com/MassachusettsEMA; and YouTube at www.youtube.com/MassachusettsEMA.

Massachusetts Alerts: to receive emergency information on your smartphone, including severe weather alerts from the National Weather Service and emergency information from MEMA, download the Massachusetts Alerts free app. To learn more about Massachusetts Alerts, and for additional information on how to download the free app onto your smartphone, visit: www.mass.gov/mema/mobileapp.