To me, All Quiet on the Western Front has come to represent more than just the title of the 1929 novel. It’s come to represent “everything is without drama, there are no fires, no emergencies, no life or death situations — for now. But something’s brewing…and it’s just a matter of time before it reveals itself.” And at this time of year for me, All Quiet on the Western Front is a direct corollary to the Atlantic Basin and the pending hurricane season now just a month away.
The Atlantic Basin is now quiet, but the seasons have changed and water temperatures are creeping upward. The Sun was directly over Earth’s equator last month and so already there’s been more than a month of direct sunlight over this broad area of tropical ocean. A quarter of a degree of sea surface warming here, a quarter of a degree there. It adds up. How long before the first swirl of clouds becomes the season’s first depression and then the first tropical storm, and then — a hurricane? And how long before that hurricane threatens your coastline (wherever you may be)?
This is the time for preparation. This is even the time to learn how to prepare. There’s still time. For some of us there will always be time to prepare but there are always those for whom time runs out. There are always those who say tomorrow is the day they’ll begin to prepare. There are always those who believe it will happen to somebody else but never to them. And there are always too few who have taken the necessary steps to be prepared and to be self-sufficient for the FEMA-recommended minimum of three days (FEMA’s “Are You Ready?” guide here).
Basic preparedness can be bitten off in tiny bites. Simply acknowledging the need to prepare is the first step. From there hopefully, it’s not much longer to step two, Develop an Emergency Plan and then step three, Collect and Assemble Your Emergency Kit. The steps are not complex, and though an emergency kit can be expensive, it doesn’t have to be (basic emergency kit); you can add to it as your time and wallet allow. (Click the link to FEMA’s guide above for the full list of steps to basic preparedness).
Even if you stopped your preparations at the completion of your emergency kit you would be well ahead of the vast majority of Americans. According to a recent survey, most Americans (60%) plan to rely on emergency responders within the first 72 hours following a disaster. This surprising finding is the exact opposite of what FEMA expects as a minimum level of basic preparedness.
What’s the answer (what’s the question?!)? Are Americans unprepared because they’re uniformed? Are Americans unprepared because they think it will happen to the other guy? Are Americans unprepared because they’re lazy? Are Americans unprepared because it’s not cool to be prepared? Are Americans unprepared because none of their friends, neighbors or co-workers talk about being prepared? FEMA’s recommended minimum is so stated because it’s quite possible it may take three days for emergency responders to reach you. Who remembers the emergency response to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina?
Hurricane season begins June 1 — 32 days from now. That’s plenty of time to develop an emergency plan, to build your emergency kit, to learn your community’s emergency evacuation routes and to take the basic steps to emergency preparedness while becoming self-sufficient for three days.
Right now it’s all quiet in the Atlantic Basin, but with the early forecast indicating an above average season it won’t stay quiet there for much longer. In the coming six months, there will be a disaster somewhere. There will be people who have prepared and there will be people who have not. Now is the time to determine how you want the days and weeks following a disaster in your community to unfold.
ImpactWeather’s 24th Annual Hurricane Symposium is just two weeks away. Learn more about this multi-day event at TropicsWatch.com.