Ready for Hanna

Published 3:46 pm Friday, September 5, 2008

In a post-Katrina world, it’s not hard to get folks’ attention when it comes to hurricanes.

For area residents, memories are fresh of 1999, when the cumulative rain of two storms — Dennis and Floyd — caused the Blackwater River to overflow its banks and inundate downtown Franklin. In some respects, the city is still recovering — at least economically — from that disaster, even though nearly a decade has passed.

If that experience — and a smaller flood in 2006 — were hard lessons about the damage that can be inflicted by floodwaters, we watched helplessly this spring as neighboring Suffolk learned from a monster tornado about the power of wind.

Unfortunately, we’re likely to experience both wind and water this weekend.

Other communities may choose to downplay Tropical Storm Hanna, which is forecast to pass through southeast Virginia on Saturday, but the people of Western Tidewater won’t be caught off-guard.

Area localities have been in preparedness mode all week and are ready to respond, even as the latest forecast has us experiencing the storm’s “weaker side.”

State officials Thursday offered some good advice to citizens on preparedness. The most fundamental rule of thumb is to have a three-day supply of essentials — water and non-perishable food — for each person in a household, as a long-term loss of electricity is possible.

Three gallons of water per person is the recommended minimum for drinking and sanitation.

Other suggested items for a family’s emergency kit include a manual can opener; a flashlight and extra batteries; a first-aid kit; a battery-powered radio; a wrench or pliers to turn off utilities; cash in small denominations; and matches in a waterproof container.

And citizens are encouraged to stay tuned to area media — including, which will have regular updates — for public-safety information.