Monday, July 19, 2010

Weather, hurricane season heating up

Bluffton Today

We have arrived at the hot part of summer in the Lowcountry. Maybe I have reached that age where one doesn’t seem to handle the heat as well as in the younger days. I don’t know. I do know that the river is calling me loud and clear these days and the appropriate response is to crank the boat and head for the sandbar with a cold watermelon and perhaps an adult beverage.

We were on the river last week and I happened to see my friend David Rosenblum and his wife Catherine, along with a boatload of children. David is home from Afghanistan for acouple of weeks and making the most of family time. If you see David or Catherine, please make certain you tell them how much we appreciate the sacrifices their family is making for all of us.

We are officially in hurricane season and I have been renewing all my contacts that will be vital if we find ourselves in a weather related emergency. To that end, I had a meeting last week with Congressman Joe Wilson and Butch Wallace about FEMA and what we might do to more closely link our planning with that of the feds. As we talked about the details of the Bluffton plan, Rep. Wilson assured me that he would be sure the federal government was ready and will do all they can.

There was also a great meeting with Tammy Malone and Frank Hodge from the town of Bluffton concerning possibly relocating town headquarters in the event of an emergency. They will not only want to make arrangements for their own people, but also those that might be here from FEMA and related agencies. Now is the time to get all the particulars ironed out so we aren’t making crucial decisions on the fly.

I have a meeting scheduled with Beaufort County Council Chairman Weston Newton and his emergency management director, William Wynn. Director Wynn is an old hand at this sort of thing but we still want to go through the exercise nonetheless.

In a somewhat related matter, I had along talk with Wanda Crotwell and Earl Hunter, the director of the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, on a different kind of emergency response. They assured me that in the very unlikely event that oil from the Gulf of Mexico well blowout makes its way around the Florida peninsula and into the Gulf Stream, they have a solid plan to bring immense resources to bear in protecting our fragile coastline.

Of necessity, such a plan is short on detail and long on flexibility, as we can’t know how this thing might occur until it occurs. Right now, the odds that the resources will be activated are vanishingly small, but the necessity for planning is very real and very urgent.

At the risk of sounding like your mama and not your state representative, I want to urge each of you to make a household plan—just in case. Know where you will go, perhaps where you will meet family members. Think about prescription medications that might be needed, as well as how you will arrange for your pets. The last minute is not the time to be getting this all together.

Last year I reminded you of these very same things. Next year, there is a pretty good chance that I will do it again. Part of living in the Lowcountry is being smart about hurricanes.