After early predictions of a more active hurricane season, people on the East and Gulf coasts of the United States were looking forward to the possibility of a hurricane season with no hurricanes making landfall on or around the southeast United States. Currently, there have been nine named tropical storms and four hurricanes which have drifted away and broke up in the north Atlantic. But September came and brought Ian, the tenth named tropical storm which has just become a hurricane south of Cuba and is scheduled to enter the Gulf of Mexico Tuesday morning.
Tampa Florida seems to be in the crosshairs of the storm at the moment, and the cone of possibility currently includes South Georgia. If the current projections don’t change, Tattnall County could experience 40 mph winds on the night of Friday, September 30 and early Saturday morning. It currently appears the storm will pass through quickly. If that prediction does not change, the county can expect rainfall of three to five inches.
Almost certainly, the projections will change as zero hour approaches which could create conditions where little or no rain or wind damage occurs, but the opposite is also true. The best approach to preparation is to pray for the best and expect the worst.
Here are a few simple steps to get ready. First, if you have a generator, pour in fresh gas, check the oil, crank it and check all outlets using a multi-meter. If no multi-meter is available, use an electric appliance such as a small fan or electric lamp to check all 115 volt outlets. Use an appropriate appliance such as a 230 volt window air-conditioner to check 230 volt outlets. Purchase enough fuel for several days.
When using a generator to run freezers, refrigerators or water pumps, it is easier to run a heavy duty extension cord directly to the appliance. If the generator is hooked into the electrical system of the house, make sure the main breaker is open so electricity is not pushed back onto electrical power grid that linemen may be repairing or downed lines which could produce an electrical hazard. If the generator is to be hooked into the home electrical system, get a qualified electrician to complete the hookup in advance.
Do not operate a gasoline or LP gas generator indoors. This is particularly dangerous during winter storms when people are tempted to bring those units indoors for convenience. Additionally, cooking with an LP gas cooker such as camp stoves or a fish cooker should always be done outdoors. Carbon dioxide is deadly.
Since there is potential for power outages, filling quart or gallon milk or other plastic jugs with water and freezing them will help freezers stay colder longer. Putting these frozen jugs of water on the top shelves of refrigerators effectively turn a refrigerator into an old fashion ice box and can help save refrigerated foods. Also, the frozen jugs can be used in coolers to preserve perishable foods. Keep refrigerators and freezers closed as much as possible.
Water can be stored in bathtubs, large plastic containers or five gallon buckets which can be used to flush commodes.
Shop early and buy drinking water (if a well and electric generator is not available) along with non-perishable foods sufficient for several days. We have been fortunate in Tattnall County as Canoochee EMC and Georgia Power are really efficient at getting downed power lines up and running in a minimum amount of time. Still hours can turn into days if the wind and rains are sufficient, and hurricanes are notoriously unpredictable. A good example is Hurricane Fiona that came ashore at Nova Scotia on Saturday, September 24, and completely washed away homes on the coast. Dazed Newfoundlanders said Juan, a category 2 hurricane that came ashore in 2003, looked like a foggy morning by contrast.
Although Ian does not appear to be a really dangerous hurricane at the present, family evacuation plans should be in place well in advance so the route and destination are not last minute decisions.
Preparation can lessen the effects, and that must be done as soon and as thoroughly as possible. Right now the local outlook is reasonably good, but that could change rapidly.