The word is out. Hurricane Season on the Atlantic is supposed to be a doozy this year. Yesterday’s article in Business Week forecasts 14 to 18 named storms this year. The article quotes the National Hurricane Center stats that the average is “11 named storms with winds of at least 39 mph, six of them reaching the 74-mph threshold for hurricanes and two growing into major storms with winds of 111 mph or more.”
Last year, we caught a break, with the fewest named storms in 12 years. Only three were officially hurricanes, and none of reached land in the U.S. We are prepared and ready for a much more active hurricane season this year.
You may ask yourself, “why is the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers involved in Hurricane Season?” Well, we are part of the federal government’s unified national response to disasters and emergencies. The Corps assists the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA by coordinating and organizing public works and engineering-related support. We have 49 specially trained response teams ready to perform a wide range of missions, as assigned by FEMA.
We prepare for our missions well before disasters occur. In preparation for the 2010 hurricane season, we’ve conducted several hurricane exercises – both internally and with local, state and federal agencies – across our organization.
When disasters occur, it is not just a local Corps district or office that responds. Personnel and other resources are mobilized across the country to carry out our response missions.
In any disaster, our top priorities are:
1. Support immediate emergency response priorities;
2. Sustain lives with critical commodities, temporary emergency power and other needs; and,
3. Initiate recovery efforts by assessing and restoring critical infrastructure.
I’d like to just take a moment to emphasize that the risk reduction measures out there, levees and floodwalls, etc., are not “protection.” There’s no such thing as “protection” in a disaster – natural or man-made. But there are a lot of things we can do to reduce our risk, and that is a shared responsibility – shared between the many public agencies involved, but also shared with you.
Check out FEMA’s Ready Campaign, the federal government’s official readiness campaign site. Another great tool is the “Ready Army” website for specific details about what you can do to prepare. The site was designed for making sure the Army’s workforce and Family members are prepared, but the information is applicable to anyone.
Be smart. Be safe. Be prepared.