Charleston, SC- Wednesday, June 1st marks the first day of the 2011 hurricane season, which runs through November 30th. An “above average” hurricane season is expected for the Atlantic Basin this year according to the seasonal outlook issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center – a division of the National Weather Service.
“The United States was fortunate last year. Winds steered most of the season’s tropical storms and all hurricanes away from our coastlines. However we can’t count on luck to get us through this season. We need to be prepared, especially with this above-normal outlook,” said Jane Lubcheno, Ph. D., NOAA Administrator. “As with every hurricane season, this outlook underscores the importance of having a hurricane preparedness plan in place.”
Every year, the Charleston District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, part of the federal government’s unified national response team to disasters and emergencies, is ready to respond when called upon. While emergency preparedness and response are primarily a state and local responsibility, the Charleston District is authorized to assist communities in pre-hurricane preparedness and in-progress- and post-hurricane response.
“In preparation for hurricane season, we have been validating all of our emergency contacts with state, local and federal partners as well as validating our personnel teams that will provide response,” said Gilbert Dent, the Charleston District’s Chief of Emergency Management. “We have been training our teams and attending regional exercises in order to review our roles and responsibilities in the event that our area of responsibility is impacted.”
One way some of the Charleston District emergency response team members have recently received hands-on experience is through recent deployment to Alabama to aid in FEMA missions, such as debris removal, in support of the tornado damage. In the case of any natural disaster, personnel and other resources are mobilized across the country from several organizations to carry out the necessary response efforts.
The Charleston District has and will continue to work closely throughout the 2011 hurricane season with local and state communities, as well as other federal agencies, to prepare. Wherever and whenever a disaster strikes, many federal, state and local agencies rely upon the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide an extensive range of expertise. The Charleston District’s employees play a large role in protecting our community by managing our civil works structures and projects in anticipation of tropical storms and hurricanes by doing project pre- and post-storm assessment surveys when requested by the project’s sponsor.
Also in 2011, the Charleston District serves as back up to the Albuquerque District for the National Ice Mission. Responsibility for this mission means that the Charleston District stands ready to assist Albuquerque District in providing an essential commodity, ice, to our nation during a disaster. These districts are prepared to provide three million pounds of ice within 24 hours of being called upon to any U.S. state or territory in need. The ice delivery is crucial to aiding in medical issues like keeping medication cool.
Most hurricanes have a lifespan of about nine days, with a higher lifespan of about twelve days in August. Storms that are of tropical origin and reach a cyclonic wind circulation of more than 74 miles per hour are classified as hurricanes.
If a hurricane is expected in our area, it is imperative to pay attention to all advisories and activate your family hurricane plan. Make sure you have your hurricane survival kit ready and know your evacuation routes and family plan before a hurricane arrives. Awareness, preparedness and action are the keys to the safety of lives and property when hurricanes threaten our area.
“We are proud of Charleston District’s role in the USACE long-standing mission to serve the nation with expeditionary teams responding to domestic incidents such as hurricane and storm responses here in South Carolina and beyond,” added Dent. “Our team prepares for emergencies 365 days a year; we just heighten our awareness and sharpen the tool kit during hurricane season.”
For more information or questions, please contact the Charleston District’s Corporate Communications Office at 843-329-8123.