MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. -- Hurricane season quietly arrived June 1 and will continue through November 30. Nobody knows what kind of storms will come with the season, but it is important for Cherry Point families to be aware of potential weather hazards, prepare for those hazards and know the resources available to them.
During this period, inland cities such as Havelock, New Bern and James City may be subject to high winds, tornadoes, storm surges and flooding, which are all associated with hurricane and tropical storm activity.
Hurricanes have the potential to cause widespread disruptions such as power outages, food and water shortages, short and long term damage to buildings, roads and other base infrastructure, according to Etta Lucas, the installation emergency manager for MCAS Cherry Point.
Harsh weather conditions have the potential of halting operations that are essential for running the air station.
“The preparedness measures taken prior to landfall such as evacuating aircraft, pre-staging of equipment, supplies and staff will have a direct impact on mission readiness,” said Lucas. “This will directly affect training at the ranges, air operations and normal day-to-day operations.”
In 2011, the coast was visited by Hurricane Irene, a category 1 hurricane that caused substantial damage to the local Morehead City area. In 2010, Hurricane Earl, another tropical weather system, brought harsh rain and wild winds to the North Carolina area.
“The last hurricane to affect Cherry Point was Hurricane Irene in 2011 and as we all know, our coast protrudes out in the Atlantic and therefore, sits directly in the path of many hurricanes that form in the Atlantic,” said Lucas. “Cherry Point experienced some power outages with downed lines and trees and some structures were damaged.”
Between the years of 1851 and 2005, North Carolina has been hit by 47 hurricanes and 12 of those were category 3 and above, according to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety.
“It only takes one hurricane or tropical storm making landfall to have disastrous impacts on our communities,” said Lucas.
Understanding the dangers of an approaching storm could be a fatal mistake. So it is important for families to prepare by developing a family disaster plan, gathering materials to endure the storm, knowing the location of local shelters and evacuation routes.
A disaster plan is a list of procedures and actions taken before and after the time of a disastrous event which explains tasks that need to be completed. Some of the things included in the plan are how families can get to a safe place, means of communication, ways of getting back together if split apart and what to do in different situations.
“Discuss your family disaster plan with all family members; make sure to include a plan for your pets," said Lucas.
Personnel aboard the air station should review local and installation emergency procedures.
After the plan has been created and rehearsed, it is essential to gather supplies needed for the duration of the event. A basic emergency supply kit contains: at least a gallon of water per individual for at least three days; at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food items, and a first aid kit. Gathering materials is vital to ensure families remain calm and get through the weather.
Cherry Point offers emergency shelters for relocation in an event that a resident or home is deemed unsafe during the storm. Depending upon the weather, Marines and their families may be required to use shelters offered on the installation. On base establishments used as a shelter are the Cherry Point Marine Dome and the Cherry Tree House.
“Because of the potential impact on Cherry Point, the station has a very comprehensive destructive weather plan that is exercised on an annual basis,” said Grant DeHaven, a program manager with mission assurance. “The plan contains the vital procedural information needed to prepare for and recover from these storms as a command. However, the safety of personnel and families that may be within or outside the fence is of utmost importance.”
DeHaven added that the safety of Cherry Point residents can only be guaranteed through the individual preparedness steps taken by each person.
Hurricanes have the potential to cause great damage to any particular area. To assist Cherry Point residents prepare during this time, Cherry Point’s Marine and Family Programs will host a Hurricane and Severe Weather Seminar June 25 at Millers Landing. The event is open to active duty service members, retirees and spouses.
In addition to the seminar, residents will have access to the Before the Storm 2014 Cherry Point Tropical Cyclone Guide, which includes information that could assist with preparing homes for a natural disturbance. The guide covers preparation before the storm, enduring the storm and recovery after the storm.
Some resources Cherry Point residents can use to monitor weather reports or disturbances are the Cherry Point web page, Facebook, local TV, radio and weather radio.
To stay informed during the season, visit Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point Emergency Management at http://go.usa.gov/8e8t or the MCAS Cherry Point website at http://www.cherrypoint.marines.mil.