Hurricane Damage Best Case Scenario

This article discusses hurricane damage and how it can be minimized by preparation.

The eastern and Gulf Coast states of the U.S. were reminded again in 2004 how destructive hurricanes can be. Hurricanes Charley, Frances and Ivan slammed into the coastlines of Florida and Alabama, causing millions of dollars in damage. Winds, flooding and beach erosion are all consequences of a big hurricane strike. If 2004 showed people the worst-case scenario, what would a best-case scenario look like?

First, most people hope that a hurricane will weaken before it makes landfall. Cooling water temperatures, interaction with other systems and other factors can often make even a large hurricane weaken significantly before it hits land. The weaker the hurricane, obviously, the less serious the damage. Preferably, if a hurricane strikes, there will be little flooding, perhaps some roof damage on smaller buildings, boats run aground, that kind of thing. Unfortunately, while this may be the most comforting thought, it isn't a realistic one. Even small hurricanes can cause quite a bit of damage.

Preparation is another significant factor in how serious a hurricane strike will be. Coastal residents differ in their views on preparation: some feel that, because a hurricane is bound to hit, making too many preparations is a waste of time and money. They simply evacuate and hope for the best. Other residents feel their homes are investments, so they take all precautions to preserve their property. These residents will also have adequate hurricane insurance that will cover rebuilding their houses, if that is necessary.

Individuals prepare, but communities also must make advance preparations, and have long-term plans that will help minimize hurricane damage. Many coastal towns have building codes that require residents to build to a minimum standard to decrease damage. Some towns have levees or seawalls that also help reduce storm surge and the accompanying flooding. Most cities also have shelters, such as schools or churches, built on higher ground, where evacuees can go.

Cities also need law enforcement and emergency services personnel who are trained in disaster preparation and relief, and who know what to do when a hurricane strikes. Police officers will need to help in the evacuation procedures and checking on people who decide not to evacuate. They will also need to patrol after the storm, to help control looting and to keep people from venturing into dangerous areas. Firefighters and emergency medical technicians will be on call throughout the storm, and hospitals should have extra staff working, to handle casualties. Hospitals should also have generators online and ready to go if the power goes out.

The city government authorities should also have an arrangement with the state government to deploy National Guard units, if the strike is a serious one. They can bring in drinking water, help rebuild vital structures, and can supplement the police force in minimizing looting.

If the strike is serious, the Federal Emergency Management Association will also set up shop. They will assist residents with immediate disaster relief and in getting federal loans for rebuilding. The city government can assist this process by providing a large building for the FEMA workers to do their jobs.

After Hurricane Ivan struck the Alabama Gulf Coast, utility crews, police forces and firefighters from all over the state converged on Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, and towns further inland, to assist with disaster relief. This is a common practice, and helps turn a bad situation into a much better one, since a major hurricane strike will often overtax the resources of any one city or county.

Even during a serious hurricane, the best-case scenario is one that shows preparation on the part of residents and towns, to preserve human life and property. A best-case scenario will include well-trained law enforcement and emergency personnel, strict building codes and good communication among various branches of government. Obviously, the best thing that could happen is that a hurricane will not strike. However, almost every coastline will eventually be hit by a hurricane, large or small. Advance preparation by citizens and governments is the best way to ensure the most positive outcome for lives and property.

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