It’s hard to believe that we’re already well into what’s often the most volatile time of the year for many Southerners – the Atlantic hurricane season – which runs from June 1 through November 30.
While we are no strangers to the threat of hurricanes in this area, it is important not to get complacent. Now is the time to be prepared and make an emergency plan.
“It can be easy to think that we’ll always have plenty of time to prepare, but that’s not always the case,” said Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center Emergency Manager Alicia Fletcher. “With our medical center just steps away from the Ashely River and many of our Veterans and employees living on the coast, it is important to refresh and update hurricane preparedness plans each year.”
Your plan should include arrangements for you, your family and your pets.
The following tips, adapted from Ready.gov, may be helpful as you make preparations for hurricane season:
- Know where to go. If you are ordered to evacuate, do so early and know the local hurricane evacuation route(s) to take and have a plan for where you can stay. The SC Emergency Management Division provides information about evacuation zones and routes.
- Put together a disaster supply kit, including a flashlight, batteries, cash, first aid supplies, and copies of your critical information in case you need to evacuate.
- If you are not in an area that is advised to evacuate and decide to stay in your home, plan for adequate supplies for several days in case you lose power and water and are not able to leave due to flooding or blocked roads.
- Have a family emergency plan. This should include places to meet in the case of an emergency, how to contact one another in case of separation, and where to find supplies if they are needed. And don't forget that pets are your family too; have a plan for how you will manage pets in case of emergency.
- Stay as connected as possible. The National Weather Service provides updates on Facebook and Twitter. The National Weather Service and National Hurricane Center also update their webpages during weather emergencies. You can sign up for weather alerts through most local news stations and through a number of weather-related apps. Radio stations are also a great source of timely information during weather emergencies (see a list of South Carolina and Georgia weather radio stations).
- Additionally, many communities have a text or email alert system for emergency notifications, like the Citizen Alert Notification System for Charleston County. To find out what alerts are available in your area, search the Internet with your town, city, or county name and the word "alerts."
“Our VA takes the safety of our patients, visitors and employees very seriously,” said Fletcher
Charleston VA employees are reminded to review the Leave & Absence Center Policy Memorandum and their service line specific emergency plan. All Charleston VAMC employees are considered essential, so it is important for employees to understand their role during a weather emergency and maintain contact with supervisors regarding work status for the duration of the emergency situation.
“We evaluate each weather emergency even before it becomes an imminent threat,” said Fletcher. “If necessary, we activate our Hospital Command Center to carefully track each event to be able to make swift, informed decisions that are in the best interest of the Veterans we serve.”
During a weather emergency, stay up-to-date on operational changes at Charleston VA by listening to local radio and TV, visiting the Charleston VAMC website, and following the medical center on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram). Charleston VA employees should contact Alicia Fletcher at Alicia.Fletcher@va.gov to sign up for Charleston VA’s emergency notification system.