It's here. The start of Hurricane Season 2008.
Despite my hopes that it will be a calm storm season, as the last two were for the U.S. anyway, it looks like Mother Nature's crappy mood, already exhibited by her whacking of us this year via cyclones, earthquakes, wildfires and tornadoes, will continue into the summer.
Yesterday, a day before the official start of the June 1 through Nov. 30 hurricane season, Tropical Storm Arthur formed off Mexico's Yucatan peninsula.
Now forecasters will be the first to tell us that an early start doesn't necessarily mean an over-active hurricane season.
But they also are quick to point out that it just takes one storm to make landfall and wreak havoc.
Get ready, now! So since we can't stop 'em, it's time to prepare for 'em, well before any tropical storm or hurricane is actually heading for our homes.
Hurricane preparation is more than simply stockpiling nonperishable food or buying a gas- or propane-fueled generator. The National Weather Service's National Hurricane Center (NHC) says any disaster prevention plan should include:
- Developing a family plan
Creating a disaster supply kit
- Having a place to go
- Securing your home
- Having a pet plan
Special attention to finances: While the NHC's list of items for your disaster supply kit primarily covers materials you'll need to physically make it through a storm and its aftermath, I want to emphasize the importance of creating a financial disaster kit, too.
This means getting enough cash out of the ATM in advance of the storm and ensuing power outages. With no electricity, access to your money is impossible.
Make sure you also break up those $20 that the ATM spits out. Any businesses that are able to open after a storm aren't likely to be keen on making change.
And make sure you have at least one credit card that has a sufficient credit balance to see you through possible weeks of having to charge purchases.
Also put in your storm-proof container insurance policies (health, home, auto), medical records, bank account numbers, Social Security card, and any other financial documents you have on hand. In fact, make copies of all this stuff and then put your originals in a safety deposit box or send to a trusted relative who lives outside the storm strike zone.
If your information is stored on your computer, be sure to download it to a CD or flash drive.
Also take photos, either Polaroids or digital, of your home, auto and other property before the storm hits. That will make claim filing easier and should help you answer any questions your insurance company might have.
Taxes, too: And don't forget to put copies of tax records in your financial disaster kit.
Although taxes won't be
Such preparation is easier to do for hurricanes, since you typically get more advance notice of any impending storm.
Here's hoping you don't ever need to use the kit's information. But the plethora of tornadoes, the tragedies in China and Myanmar and the early arrival of Arthur (now thankfully fading) underscore just how important it is to be fully prepared for any disaster before it hits.