We Turn Private Boat Owners into Private Boat Captains
Vincent Pica Chief of Staff, First District, Southern Region (D1SR) United States Coast Guard Auxiliary
Hunkering Down – Hurricanes on Long Island…
Last week, Hurricane Isaac gave the southeast US and Gulf Coast a pretty good dousing – and us a warning. Almost without exception, we get the tail, shoulder or rump of one or two of the dozen or so hurricanes that form up in the Atlantic between the Caribbean and Africa and bring so much destruction and misery with them as they thunder west and north. Hurricane season still has time to run. Isaac did most of his damage when he stalled over Louisiana – and dumped buckets of rain.
We live on an island.
For islanders, as bad as the winds will be (more on that below), it is the tides and tidal surges that will do most of the damage, which is why even these tails that go by every year leave so much trouble behind. The storm tide is added to the astronomical tides. And when those waves hit something solid, they generate force dozens of times more powerful than wind of the same speed. Andrew generated a storm tide of 17 feet. Camille in 1969? 24 feet.
Add to that the population growth in our area and the increase in the value of homes and it can spell either "an absolute disaster" or "they were prepared."
What Is It?
A hurricane is, in the words of scientists, an organized rotating weather system that develops in the tropics.Technically, it is a “tropical cyclone” and it is classified as one of three states, with hurricanes being further classified into levels of destruction…
Tropical Depression:sustained winds of 38 mph (33 knots) or less
Tropical Storm: sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph (34-63 knots)
Hurricane: sustained winds of 74 mph (64 knots) or greater
Hurricanes are called typhoons in the western Pacific and cyclones in the Indian Ocean.Six of one, a half dozen of the other…
click to enlarge - Courtesy of NOAA National Weather Service
Categories of Hurricanes
We’ve all heard the weather reporter state that “Hurricane ‘x’ is now a Category 3 hurricane and headed for ________.”What does that mean?
CategoryWinds(mph)Type of Damage ExpectedExamples
174-95Anything not tied down is goingIrene, 1999
to be lost; don’t get hit by it.
296-110Trees will go down.Roofs inFloyd, 1999
3111-130Many trees will go down, alongBetsy, 1965
with small buildings Alicia, 1983
4131-155Complete failures of some smallHugo, 1989
of many structures
5156->Catastrophe.Wrath of God.Andrew, 1992
USCG hurricane aircraft reported Andrew and Katrina had generated winds over 200mph at various times of the storms…
Are You Ready For the Glancing Blow?
Look, if a Category-4 or -5 gets up here like in 1938, there are no levels of preparedness except evacuation.A storm surge like Camille’s basically means that everything “south of the highway”, as real estate agents like to classify the choicest properties on Long Island, is gone for all intents and purposes.But what if the glancing blow like Ivan’s in 2004 or, Earl, who just left town, came in head-on?How can you be ready?
Before the Storm Arrives
1. Have a family action plan – if you’re at caught at school or at work, who do you call?To grandmother’s house we go?
2. flash lights working?Canned goods and water supplies?Cash?Portable radio? 3. Where ARE you going to move the boat?Don’t even THINK about staying on her… 4. How about your prescription medicines?A first-aid kit is WHERE…!?
During the Storm
1. Have the radio or TV on.If power goes out and you don’t have a portable radio, I’d get the kids in the car and “to grandmother’s house we go…!”
2. Propane tanks on your property?Shut them off completely. 3. Turn the refrigerator up all the way and don’t open the door idly. 4. Fill the bath tub with water.How about the big spaghetti pot?Anything that can hold water and keep it clean.
5. If ordered to evacuate, do so.Immediately.And tell someone where you are going.
6. When evacuating, don’t drive across flowing water.2’ of flowing water can carry your car away.Yes.Only 2’ of moving water.Turn around and go another way.
After the Storm
1. If you’ve been ordered to evacuate, don’t go back until the area is declared safe.
2. If you see someone that needs rescuing, unless the threat of loss of life is imminent, call 9-1-1.
3. See standing water?Do you know if any power cables lie in it? 4. Never use candles and other open flames indoors.Keep the flashlight at your side…
This is by no means an exhaustive list. But Isaac just sent us a wake-up call.
BTW, if you are interested in being part of USCG Forces, email me at JoinUSCGAux@aol.comor go direct to the D1SR Human Resources department, who are in charge of new members matters, at DSO-HR and we will help you “get in this thing…”
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