By Jasmine Haynes, Web and Social Media Specialist
The recent threat of Tropical Storm Karen reminded me of my
most memorable lesson in disaster preparedness on August 27, 2005, when I raced to leave New Orleans to escape Hurricane Katrina before it reached the gulf. I was a mass communication major at Dillard University, a United Methodist-related institution.
Photo of a house blocks away from Dillard University's campus damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Photo courtesy of Jasmine Haynes
I remember being so excited to catch up with friends during the first week back at school that I opted to hang out with classmates instead of paying attention to the warnings that were constantly on the news. My resident assistant nearly beat my door down to wake me up and caution me about the coming hurricane. I still considered Hurricane Katrina another false alarm like most of the hurricanes that go through New Orleans. However a mandatory evacuation was ordered--exposing my lack of preparation.
I had no idea that my gas tank was nearly empty and that I would have to wait in several long lines before finding a station with fuel. I did not know that I would lead a convoy of students through eight hours of traffic from New Orleans to our safe place, my home in Jackson, Mississippi. I never imagined that I should have packed more than three days of clothing and a few books because I would lose just about everything I owned two days later. No one anticipated reports that 80 percent of New Orleans would be flooded, that there would be over 1,800 deaths and that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) would declare Hurricane Katrina "the single most catastrophic natural disaster in U.S. history."
The Atlantic hurricane season does not officially end until November 30 according to The Weather Channel. Even though Mississippi's recent rains from Tropical Storm Karen proved to be far from disastrous, one can never take too much precaution for emergencies. Wayne Napier, Mississippi coordinator for the Mississippi United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), is reminding everyone about the importance of preparation. Below he offers the following safety tips. As the conference web and social media specialist, I urge everyone to learn from my mistakes and follow Napier's recommendations.
Storm Preparedness Tips
- Be prepared for the storm.
- Make a plan and let people know your plan.
- Make sure to monitor and heed warnings and advisories.
- Make sure to account for church members and neighbors who will need help to prepare and or evacuate.
- Make a list of shut-ins and the vulnerable and give the list to local emergency management agencies or the fire department.
- Make sure people know where you will evacuate to and how to get in touch with you.
- Do you have what you need to evacuate (medications, baby items, food, cash and important documents)?
- Church vans and tire concerns--check the condition of and the manufacture date on all tires and other church owned equipment. Any reputable tire dealer can do this for you.