(June 13, 2014) Delmarva Power with the Town of Ocean City and other local groups held a conference June 11, to remind the public to be prepared for strong storms now that hurricane season has arrived.
“Even though fewer storms are predicted this year, it only takes one storm to cause property damage and widespread power outages,” said Jim Smith, Delmarva Power’s senior public affairs manager.
“What we want to stress is government does not do it by itself,” said Joe Theobald, the town’s Emergency Services Director. “It’s a partnership. Everybody has their piece to do.”
Individuals should have an evacuation plan and a backup plan in place well before a storm hits, for example.
They should prepare by assembling an emergency kit — everything from flashlights and batteries to a first aid kit, battery-powered radio, non-perishable food, a can opener, bottled water and emergency phone numbers.
“Anything that you think is essential, you need to put in there,” said Delmarva Power’s Matt Likovich, media relations manager. “A storm kit can be anything anybody thinks is important.”
He recommended putting the kit in a cooler so its contents stay dry in case of flooding and reminded the crowd that kits should provide for a family for several days without electricity.
When a storm is approaching, individuals should be vigilant about keeping up-to-date on warnings and other information, said Fred Webster, director of emergency services for Worcester County.
“Pay attention to advisories and information that comes out of… the Town of Ocean City’s Emergency Management Office, or the county’s emergency management office or the state’s emergency management office,” he said. “If we tell you it’s time to evacuate, it’s time to go.”
Sue Rantz, Chief Animal Control Officer for Worcester County, noted that storm preparation should take pets into account, too.
“Hurricane Katrina opened the country’s eyes to a catastrophic oversight that did not include animals in personal and public disaster planning,” leaving 600,000 animals dead or without shelter, she said.
“This caused needless suffering and death, but the recognition has led to many changes,” Rantz said. For example, emergency shelters and transportation accept families with their animals now.
She urged pet owners to kept an identification tag on their pets or microchip them and to carry a photo of the animals to help them reunite in case they are separated during a storm. Owners should keep an emergency supply of food, water and medicine for their pets and the animals’ records, a leash and a carrier.
Worcester County has three shelters at Stephen Decatur Middle School, Pocomoke High School and at the animal control facility that accept pets, she said.
To prepare for storm events, Delmarva Power employees undergo drills throughout the year, Smith said. “Preparation for us is something that goes on 365 days a year.” The company updated 40 blocks of its transmission lines in Ocean City this winter to increase carrying capacity and install galvanized steel poles that are able to withstand strong winds. The company trims along hundreds of power lines each year to help prevent trees from knocking out power during storms, he said.
In the case of a power outage, Delmarva Power will address life-threatening downed lines first, followed by the largest transmission lines and substation equipment.
“What it comes down to is partnerships,” Smith said, urging the public to prepare not only for hurricanes but other events like Nor’easters and tropical storms.
“Now is the time to be prepared — not a few days before the storm,” Theobald said.
Visit www.oceancitymd.gov/ Emergency_Management/emergencymgmt.html for more local information on how to prepare for hurricane season, or visit FEMA’s website www.ready.gov or MEMA’s www.mema.maryland.gov.
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