Getting ahead of storms

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- In anticipation of the 2017 hurricane season, 20th Civil Engineer Squadron emergency management Airmen distributed information during the six-week national PrepareAthon campaign, culminating with National Hurricane Preparedness Week, May 7 to 13.

The campaign intended to get individuals in the mindset of readiness before the yearly hurricane season arrives from June 1 to November 30.

Severe weather can have serious negative impacts such as property loss, personal injury or even death. However, the risk of personal or property emergencies can be lessened when individuals are proactive. Such measures include: evaluating insurance plans, gathering emergency kit supplies and evaluating homes prior to the arrival of a storm.

“It’s never too early to be ready, so it’s best to look now before hurricane season officially starts rather than during hurricane season when everybody’s scrambling,” said Staff Sgt. Dayna Byrd, 20th CES emergency management operations NCO in charge.

Tech. Sgt. Chonte Thomas, 20th CES emergency management NCOIC, recommends families get ready for the season by gathering family and pet information, and ensuring everyone knows what to do in the event of a hurricane.

Thomas also said individuals should learn about flood risks in the areas they live as flooding can be major hazard during a hurricane. Flooding can cause costly property damage and threat to life when individuals underestimate water depth and strength.

When Team Shaw members plan and assess their risks, they should note the hurricane condition timelines for the base. The timelines indicate specific severe weather factors, such as wind speed, in order to keeps people updated on current conditions.

While Shaw families gather supplies and information, emergency management Airmen hope they also begin to think differently about severe weather.

“People tend to think, ‘Oh, a hurricane was coming here, but it never hit us,’” said Thomas. “They don’t think they could be impacted. It only takes one hurricane to change its course of direction to impact an area. But if you constantly have false alarms, then people get complacent and they get in the mindset, ‘It won’t happen to me.’ You always have to be aware. You have to take hurricanes seriously and you have to take preparedness even more seriously just in case that false alarm turns into ‘oh my goodness, it’s actually going to hit us.’”

For more information about hurricane preparedness, visit