Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Heads Up Gulf Coast

First of all, Tropical Storm Fay is a head-scratcher. She couldn't be like other tropical systems. Oh no. Not her. She just couldn't intensify over water. She has to be special and intensify over land!

I'm beginning to think she's a bit of a drama queen as well as being The Joker.

The computer models keep showing a trend that shows her heading our way. In fact, the latest model shows her taking one of the most heavily traveled roads: I-10.

The Mississippi Gulf Coast and southeast Louisiana are still extremely vulnerable to tropical systems. Hurricane Katrina devastated vast areas of marsh lands in Louisiana and damaged barrier islands off Mississippi's Coast. In Mississippi, other buffers such as buildings and trees are no longer there. Thankfully, there are only 435 FEMA trailers left. This vulnerability is one of the reasons I follow these tropical systems so closely.

Many know how to prepare their homes to keep their families, pets, and property secure. But what about businesses? It is very similar to preparing for your home. And in many ways very different. One of the things I do in the event we are threatened is first make multiple back-ups, usually three. These back-ups are given to three different people. The server is taken further inland to a hunting camp my bosses own.

The rest of the computer equipment is secured and along with essential files such as general ledgers, accounts receivables, accounts payables, insurance policies are secured and taken off-site.

Too extreme you may ask? Consider this, many businesses including hospitals had vital records and equipment destroyed due to flooding.

The steps taken are modified depending on the threat. Where I work, we are extremely vulnerable. Our offices are still the trailers we've been renting since Hurricane Katrina hit. Our factory has been rebuilt and plans are in the works to start construction on new offices.

Normally, we would only implement the above measures for storms Category 3 or above. But if Tropical Storm Fay looks to be heading our way, we will treat her as a major storm.

Yesterday, while here in Mississippi, I watched as the first bands from Tropical Storm Fay passed over Plant City Florida. My aunt lives there. Aunt Dixie is a very strong women in her 70's. I still worried about her. My Mom talked to her and was told all was okay.

Some may consider this to be too much worrying over just a tropical storm. But there are those that understand. When Tropical Storm Edouard was heading to Port Arthur Texas, I spoke with someone in its path. In the conversation, I told her a lot of us on the Mississippi Gulf Coast are now afraid of even tropical depressions. She replied it was very understandable because of what we went through on the Mississippi Gulf Coast during Hurricane Katrina. Katrina put fear in us and in many ways that is good thing. There is little complacency about these systems. However, there is a danger creeping in. Some are beginning to say if my house didn't flood during Katrina, it won't flood in other storms. That was a mistake many made with Katrina. They thought because their home didn't flood during Camille, it wouldn't flood during Katrina.

Chances are good that if Tropical Storm Fay does head our way, she will be at most a minimal hurricane. But because of the conditions that exist here and because of a profound respect for these storms, it will not be treated as a joker.

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