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Disaster preparedness series part one: disasters can strike quickly

By Dillon Brollier
On November 9, 2012

     The saying goes, "it is not the 100 punches you see coming that will knock you out, but it is the one punch you don't see that does the trick."

     It is important to be prepared in life, whether it means being prepared for a test in class or being prepared for a natural disaster.

     In the wake of hurricane Sandy that shook the east coast, the first part in the Ram Page's series of disaster preparedness hones in on natural disasters.

     The natural disaster that San Angelo is at most risk for is flash flooding, said Hector Guerrero, warning coordination meteorologist of the National Weather Service.

     The National Weather Service has a campaign labeled "turn around, don't drown" that urges motorists to not attempt to drive through heavily flooded streets.

     On Sept. 28 and 29, the Concho Valley saw as much as 10 inches of rain fall over the 24-hour period between those days.  

     Over the course of those days, nearly 120 people were rescued from their vehicles due to the high waters.  

     According to the National Weather Service, before that heavy rain, San Angelo had only received about 1.5 inches of rain the previous three months.

     The heavy rain caught many off guard and is a prime example of the suddenness of a serious weather condition.

     "That was one of those weather events where everything came together just right," Guerrero said.

     The shelves of local stores were nearly picked clean of essential products in the wake of the heavy rains. With the storm approaching, many people were involved in a mad dash to grab items.

     "Try and get to what you need and get it," said Lynn Shipley, HEB unit director. "We generally will have all the registers open, and we will get the customer checked out as soon as we can."

     If one waits until the eve of a major weather disaster to make it to the store, he or she should be prepared to face very large crowds.

     During times of extreme weather such as a hurricane, store shelves will be picked bone dry, Shipley said.

     "There will be nothing on the counters," Shipley said. "It is totally wiped out. People come in and buy all the staples, and we will drop a pallet (a flat storage structure) and they will buy from the pallet before we even get it on the shelves."

     Beyond heavy rains, the Concho Valley can face disasters ranging from wildfires to tornados and even extreme winter weather such as icy roads and snow.

     During the winter months, ice can accumulate on tree branches that can break and fall over power lines.

     The best way to prepare for any natural disaster is to be properly informed Guerrero said.
"Have a way to receive good weather information so you can make good decisions for whatever you are planning to do," Guerrero said.

Items in an emergency supply

  • Non - Perishable food items
  • Pre-packaged Meats
  • Bottled water
  • First Aid Kit
  • Pet collar with ID tag, harness and leash
  • Toilet Paper
  • Paper Towels
  • Flashlight
  • Batteries
  • Medicine
  • Hand crank weather Radio
  • Cash
  • Special items for small children
  • Map of area
  • Change of clothing
  • Sanitation Items

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