By Katy Galimberti
Marked as National Preparedness Month, September brings the reminder of how pivotal it is to be prepared for extreme weather in order to minimize the impact on families, communities and essential infrastructures.
The National Weather Service is partnered with AccuWeather in order to mold a resilient nation that has the proper information, tools and knowledge to brace for nature’s fury. Known as Weather-Ready Nation, the program strives to hinder the potential damage by encouraging citizens to prepare now for weather that could strike at any moment.
September’s headlining phrase for creating a strong, equipped country is “Be Disaster Aware, Take Action to Prepare.” The simple message can be taken in great stride to protect yourself, your family and your entire community.
The entire effort is based upon four pillars: be informed, make a plan, build a kit and get involved.
The Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador Lead for the NWS Douglas Hilderbrand stressed the instrumental importance of treating preparedness as a “365-days-of-the-year state of mind.”
“We have national preparedness month to shine the spotlight on preparedness, but really it’s every single day that people need to know as they’re making their plans and what risks are out there,” he said.
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As the weather is ever-evolving and rapidly changing, Hilderbrand strongly encourages people to remain prepared even when away from the shelter of home. While having a kit is essential, there should be plans in place if danger strikes at a school, an office or even in transit.
Hilderbrand cited the late-January 2014 winter storm that slammed Atlanta and left highways clogged with stranded motorists. The massive number of people stuck on icy, impassable highways could have been avoided by businesses having adequate plans to keep employees home and off dangerous roads, he said.
Weather and climate disasters have been the catalyst for a connected, supportive nation, including events such as Hurricane Katrina. To this day, Hurricane Katrina remains the most expensive billion-dollar disaster in the U.S. since 1980 with over $149 billion lost.
Hurricane Katrina destroyed entire towns and portions of cities along the Gulf Coast in the U.S. late in August of 2005 (Photo/NOAA).
Still, communities need to think of everyday weather events as a way to protect each other as well.
“Serve as an example to your family, neighbors, community. Inspire others to know the risk, take action and promote [preparedness] throughout your social network,” Hilderbrand said.