Airmen from the 633rd Communications Squadron move sandbags to the base telephone office to prevent flooding at Langley Air Force Base, Va., Aug. 25, 2011. Langley AFB was preparing for Hurricane Irene, which was expected to make landfall in the area. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Logan Tuttle)
by Teresa Hood
Air Force Civil Engineer Support Agency
6/22/2012 - TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AFNS) -- Every year on June 1, when hurricane season officially begins, Airmen at bases along the East Coast and the Gulf of Mexico start to pay more attention to the weather.
It pays to be vigilant. Last year, on Aug. 27, 2011, Hurricane Irene landed in North Carolina and traveled up the Atlantic Coast, causing 43 deaths in 12 states and an estimated $20 billion in property damages while leaving millions of people without power.
It also pays to be ready, according to Air Force emergency managers.
"There is no reason to be unprepared, because you have plenty of lead time from Dec. 1 to May 31," said Fred Casale, the chief of Air Force Emergency Management Operations at the Air Force Civil Engineer Support Agency here. "Hurricane season lasts six months, but being prepared is a year-round endeavor."
"Be Ready" is not only emergency management's mantra, it's also the name of the Air Force-wide campaign to ensure all military members and civilians living and working on bases are prepared for any emergency situation.
The Air Force Be Ready Awareness Campaign covers all potential emergency situations, outlining what to know and do before, during and after natural disasters and man-made events.
At the core of the campaign is a 64-page Air Force Emergency Preparedness Guide, which includes an emergency supply kit checklist and a template to help families develop an emergency plan. The guide is available through installation emergency management offices or from the Air Force Be Ready website at www.beready.af.mil. In addition to the guide, the website provides information for all readiness situations and even has a section devoted to preparing children for emergencies.
With hurricane season underway, emergency managers encourage Airmen and their families to develop their plans for not just these high-wind and rain events, but also for related dangers.
"To be fully prepared for hurricanes, you must also plan for all the events associated with them: tornadoes, high winds, storm surges, heavy rainfall and flooding," said Sam Hazzard, an Air Force emergency education and training manager. "It's important to remember that these don't always occur just with hurricanes or just in coastal areas. They can occur anywhere or anytime, as can other natural disasters like earthquakes or fires, or man-made events such as a major accident or a hazardous material spill."
Experts at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predict that 2012 will be a normal year for hurricanes and tropical storms, with a 70-percent chance of nine to 15 named storms with winds of 39 mph or higher. They project four to eight of the storms will strengthen into hurricanes with winds of 74 mph or higher, and one to three of these will become major hurricanes with winds of 111 mph or higher.
"Being prepared for a hurricane, or for any potential emergency, involves planning and forethought," said Rob Genova, an Air Force emergency management education and training specialist. "Knowing what to expect and how to prepare makes any crisis more manageable and less frightening. Get a kit, make a plan and be prepared -- be ready."