’09 hurricane preparedness is key

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 8, 2009

As Louisianans, we are acutely aware of how dangerous and damaging hurricanes can be.

Since it is impossible to predict when disaster will strike, making preparations early is the best way to help ensure the safety of our families. Waiting until the last minute during the most active part of the season can have disastrous results.

For those living in coastal and other vulnerable areas, the first step you should take is to decide where you and your family are going to evacuate. It is a good idea to have an out-of-state friend or family member contact for your entire family. In the event that you and your family become separated, this contact will give you a universal point of reference and a means to communicate with each other. Since cell phone communication can be difficult during a storm, this contact is crucial to giving you the peace of mind that everyone is safe.

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But preparation should not be limited to those in the more vulnerable areas. If you do not live in the coastal regions, you may have family there. You may invite your family or friends from the south into your homes since vacant hotel rooms are scarce during evacuations. Such generosity is critical to those that must evacuate on such short notice.

It is important also to remember that even homes in Northern parts of Louisiana can be vulnerable to damage. Tornadoes and widespread rains and flooding can also accompany hurricanes and occur far from where the storm actually makes landfall, so you too can benefit from making the necessary preparations to best protect your home.

The National Hurricane Center recommends that you create a plan for your family, to include locating a safe room or the safest areas in your home for each hurricane hazard, making a plan for your pets and taking first aid, CPR or disaster preparedness classes.

These are just a few of examples of how you can best prepare for the hurricane season. Hurricanes are part of life every year in Louisiana, but advance preparations can help reduce their impact on your family. I urge you to take hurricane watches and warnings seriously. Please plan ahead for your family’s safety and encourage your neighbors to do the same.

I am interested in hearing your thoughts on how we can help more Louisiana families prepare for hurricane season. Please contact me with your ideas at any of my state offices or in my Washington office by mail at U.S. Senator David Vitter, U.S. Senate, 516 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510, or by phone at 202-224-4623. You can also reach me on the web at vitter.senate.gov.

David Vitter is a U.S. Senator representing Louisiana.