A total of 82 residents joined The Landings Association’s Virtual Hurricane Town Hall Meeting on Monday, June 15. Although the Hurricane Town Hall is an annual event, this is the first time the meeting was held virtually because of COVID-19 social distancing guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Chatham Emergency Management Agency’s (CEMA) Emergency Management Specialist in Community Outreach Chelsea Sawyer presented general information on hurricanes and shared tips for hurricane preparedness.
Sawyer reminded attendees that Hurricane Season runs from June 1 to November 30, with peak season being September. She assured the group that CEMA makes a point to monitor every storm that has the potential to impact Chatham County and informs residents accordingly. She added that one thing CEMA noticed during hurricanes Matthew and Irma is that some people worry needlessly over what is known as the Cone of Uncertainty of hurricanes. Although this cone contains the probable path of the storm center, it does not show the impact or size of the storm, which means hazardous conditions can occur outside of the cone.
“Even if your area is not within this cone, I encourage you to ask yourself more clarifying questions, such as is storm surge a possibility, or could a tornado spawn from this hurricane. Whatever you do, don’t make your sole evacuation decision based on the fact you are not in the cone of uncertainty.”
Sawyer encouraged the group to pay close attention to all CEMA-issued information during a potential hurricane or severe weather event. She reminded residents that Chatham County’s evacuation zones
were updated a few years ago, and The Landings falls within Zone A, which is the first group that will be evacuated. She explained that a general evacuation means that the decision to evacuate is left to the discretion of individuals (though strongly encouraged), whereas a mandatory evacuation means personal discretion is not an option. If an evacuation order is issued, Sawyer said she urges everyone in Chatham County to leave.
“Chatham County has one of the greatest storm surge potentials on the East Coast,” she said. “Knowing about this surge potential is a very good reason to be prepared and evacuate if an order is issued.”
After explaining what to expect when an evacuation order is issued, Sawyer switched gears to having a plan and being prepared.
“Having a plan now will save time when seconds count,” she said. “Remember to take your bills, because even if your lights are out, Georgia Power expects to get paid, and the same goes for your other bills. Additionally, don’t forget to take cash. If the power is out, debit and credit cards will not work.”
Sawyer said a safe bet is to plan to be away from home a minimum of three days. Pack food, medications, hygiene supplies, first aid supplies, and general supplies. She added that because of the impact COVID-19 has had on the availability of certain items in grocery and other retail stores, it is best to consider a “multiple trip” approach as your put your kits together. “This will allow others to also get the products they need as well as give the retailer the opportunity to replenish their supplies.Take some time and pick up items that you prefer when you are out and about doing your normal grocery shopping. Also, don’t forget to pack items for your pets, and please don’t leave them behind.”
Sawyer then shared the re-entry plan for Chatham County. As of June 1, 2018, Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) controls all re-entry passes for the State of Georgia. Passes are required for phases one through three of the five-phase re-entry plan. The following phases and their explanation are as follows:
- Phase 1: Render Safe Task Force - This includes teams who work to render the area safe for first responders to conduct life and safety operations during phase 2. This phase requires a re-entry permit.
- Phase 2: Life-Safety Workforce - This phase includes first responders and others who conduct life and safety operations. This phase requires a reentry permit.
- Phase 3: Essential Public and Private Sector Personnel - This phase includes individuals in the public and private sector who can restore essential operations, services, and commerce. This includes members of the media. This phase also requires a permit.
- Phase 4: Local residents, property owners, and business owners - In this phase, access may be restricted to specific areas, and a curfew may be in place. This phase requires a valid, state-issued identification and an address in the impacted area or valid state-issued photo identification with proof of residency.
- Phase 5: Open to the public with limited access - Local officials will have determined the County, or portions of the County, are relatively safe for entrance by the public. Restrictions and curfews may be used during this phase.
Sawyer encouraged residents to visit CEMA’s website (www.chathamemergency.org
) when preparing their hurricane plans. On the website, residents can sign up for CEMA alerts, Twitter notifications, and even phone notifications through Swift911. Don’t forget, The Landings Association offers Swift911 Emergency service exclusively for Landings Residents. To sign up, visit www.landings.org/swift911
. If you or someone you know is missing out on Landings Association messages and news, please email us (firstname.lastname@example.org
) or visit our website (www.landings.org
) and click Login.
The view the CEMA presentation from the Hurricane Town Hall, please click here
. To view other helpful information from CEMA regarding Hurricane Season, click here