THOMASVILLE — Hurricane season officially began June 1 and lasts until November 30, which is why city officials say it’s important for Thomasville residents to be aware of resources and procedures that will keep everyone safe during the six months.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrations predicts “another above-normal Atlantic hurricane season” with a 60% chance of an above-normal season.
NOAA also predicts six to 10 of the 13 to 20 named storms will form into hurricanes that could produce 74 mph winds or higher but three to five of those hurricanes can become major hurricanes.
Experts, however, don’t expect storm activity to reciprocate the 2020 season.
Lisa Griffis, Thomas County Emergency Management Agency deputy director, said that having a hurricane safety kit ready is one of the main things residents should do in preparation for hurricane season.
“They need to go through their kits, if they have a kit and update it,” she said. “Make sure you take out expired things and go though it, get rid of the old stuff and add some new stuff.”
According to Ready.gov, a kit should consist of items such as water, emergency chargers, first aid kits, and nonperishable food supplies. It’s also recommended to keep any medication and cash in the kits.
Griffis also suggests residents download apps that can quickly give updates on current conditions and what they should do.
“Make sure you have the app ready.gov and have that updated on your phone and check your weather radios. And this is stuff you should do periodically all year. Don’t wait until hurricane season because you know it’s all hazards,” she said. “A good weather app on your phone is good because in different areas it will update in the areas you’re in because it works by GPS.”
Communication lines are likely to be cut off by storm damages which is why Griffis said families need to prepare a communication plan now so that everyone is prepared to know what to do during a hurricane.
“Make sure that your communication lines are good with your family and your extended family,” she said. “Practice that or at least talk about what you’re going to do if not just hurricanes but summer storms just pop up.”
Hurricane Michael was the last hurricane that struck Thomas County in 2018 with wind gusts of 70 mph. Approximately 13,000 Thomasville utility customers were without power and 500 to 600 trees were reported knocked down into roads.
Ron Kelley, Thomas County Public Works administrative assistant, said that residents can help with hurricane clean-up by staying inside.
“A big thing for us is after storms come and gone, it’s our job to go out and clear the road way of debris and paralyzed trees,” he said. “We encourage people not to go out and try to look at all the damage because we have equipment out doing a lot of work at that time.”
Kelley also said residents should avoid driving anywhere once a hurricane is reported to prevent any fatal accidents or injuries.
“We encourage people not to drive during a storm because it’s dangerous," he said. "Trees are blown down, roads get washed out. You don’t want to drive during or stand in water because you don’t know what’s under the water and you can get swept away by the water.”
Other resources Griffis said could help with hurricane damages include Red Cross, the Federal Management Emergency Agency, and United Way.
“There are all types of programs that open up like United Way and Red Cross if it’s (hurricane damage) declared a disaster,” she said. “But that’s what happens when there is something that gives tremendous amount of damage. It’s a process that we go through with the state to make it through to the federal level. But locally Red Cross is good for individual disasters like house fires, things like that where single families are affected.”