July 31, 2020

Mayor Hatem Hurricane Season Update

This is Dr. Joe Pat Hatem, Mayor of the City of Southport.  It is Hurricane Season and it is time to discuss what we need to do as citizens when the National Weather Service issues a bulletin that a storm is forming, a tropical depression, that there is a high percentage that this will develop into a hurricane and that these are the possible paths that are predicted, the tracking of where landfall may take place. As Mayor, it is my responsibility to keep our citizens safe and part of that, along with working with our City Manager, Board of Aldermen, Fire, Police, EMS, Chiefs, and all City Staff Department Heads, is to assist in making sure you have the information that you need to successfully mitigate the storm.

One of the best ways to prepare is to go to our city website southportnc.org where you will click on the Emergency Hurricane Information icon. From there, you will see five categories with their respective checklists:  Before the Hurricane; During a Hurricane Watch/Warning; What to do if you Evacuate; What to do if you stay and the last category, After the Storm.  For example: Before the Storm on the checklist includes follow the city website and on Facebook, register for emergency notifications through the link to the Brunswick County Website and I would encourage you visit this website as well, it has additional and pertinent information on what we need to do to prepare and to survive a hurricane. Also on the checklist, decide where you will go during an evacuation, take inventory and gather supplies so your family can endure evacuation or home confinement.  During a Hurricane Watch/Warning:  items on the checklist: Monitor TV broadcasts, from The Weather Channel or your favorite cable news channel and also our local channels-WWAY and WECT-these are all great sources of storm information and storm tracking. Follow the city website, refill your prescriptions for you and your pets and have at least a two week supply. Store valuable papers in a safe place.  Secure outside items, cash from the ATM, fill your vehicle with gas, and turn the refrigerator to the coldest setting. So, please read the city website and follow the checklist under each category that is appropriate for you. It tells you how to prepare and what to do depending on the situation. And go to the various links that are provided on the Emergency Hurricane Information Page.

Every citizen has a responsibility to be prepared for an approaching storm, and government has a vital role in preparing for hurricanes.  We take our lead from state and county officials and those in charge at the City Emergency Operation Center will decide what is the best course of action for our city and for our citizens.

Here is an acronym that I believe will also help as we move forward in hurricane preparedness:

SOUTHPORT

S   SAFETY FIRST!  STOCK UP ON SUPPLIES
O   ORGANIZATION: Be organized in your planning as the storm approaches.  Have your list!
U  UPDATES:   Pay close attention the weather updates and listen to the recommendations of local officials as the storm approaches.
T  TIMELINE:  Before the Storm, During the Storm, After the Storm  
H  HURRICANES:  To be taken seriously and HELP your neighbor.
P  Preparation: Checklist ready:  water, batteries, medications, provisions, boarding up, following the city website and the Southport Emergence Facebook Page.      PETS-make sure they are cared for and safe. And always PRAYER.
O  ORDERLY EVACUATION:  Have a plan as to where you are going to go. Have a bag already packed with the necessary items you will need-again review the checklist.   Remember your face covering.
R  RELATIVES:  Make sure they know where you are or will be and that they are safe and have a plan as well.
T TECHNOLOGY:  Phone, charger, radio, laptop, flashlight.

Hurricanes are a part of our way of life in Southport, I can remember house sitting during Hurricane Bertha in 1996 and the only light I could see was from the Oak Island Lighthouse shining through the woods of Indigo on Spikerush Trail and spending a week at Dosher Hospital during Hurricane Florence.  I was also in Wilmington, on call as an Internal Medicine Resident at New Hanover Memorial Hospital when Hurricane Diane hit our area in 1984.  We have the capability to be so much more prepared and to have information at our fingertips compared to those earlier storms and in particular compared to Hurricane Hazel in October of 1954. We have ways to stay safe, to be prepared, we still have our Southport Courage, this seafaring town, but we will not be reckless, we will be cautious and compassionate, communication is the key, as we listen to our local officials and we begin our preparation on the City of Southport Website at southportnc.org. 

I encourage all citizens to become familiar with the website and the important information listed there as we approach and prevail over another Hurricane Season.

Stay well, Stay strong, stay safe and stay prepared.