CEMA Advises Preparation for Isabel

Isabel as seen from space.
Isabel as seen from space.

The most powerful Atlantic hurricane in the last five years has people all along the East Coast alert and watching. Hurricane Isabel is now a category five storm. The good news is, should it come this way, we still have plenty of time to prepare. WTOC spoke with local emergency management officials about the big storm. They're going to be monitoring Isabel's progress all weekend, but they say we all need to take advantage of the weekend to make sure we'll be ready if Isabel comes our way.

Chatham Emergency Management Agency director Phillip Webber is staying in contact with the National Weather Service and tracking the storm by computer. "It's very uncertain," he said. "My gut feeling right now is I'm praying it turns and goes out to sea and doesn't impact anyone on the East Coast."

The satellite image from NASA to the right gives you an idea just how huge Isabel is. The storm is moving west about nine miles an hour, and if it makes landfall, it could hit anywhere along the East Coast.

"I think everyone from Florida to Maine is in play with this storm right now," Webber said.

Hurricane Isabel is still several days off shore and we don't know which direction it will head. CEMA says now is not the time to panic; however, if you haven't prepared for hurricane season, now would be a good time to start. "This is a good weekend to locate some documents around your home such as important papers, insurance policies, deeds to property, health records, photographs and things that cannot be replaced," said Webber. "Locate them and make them available."

Also, make sure you know your evacuation route. "For any storm, you need to know where you will go, how you will get there and you need to be prepared to activate that plan," advised Webber.

Don't forget your elderly family members and neighbors, and even your pets. Make sure they have what they need. If there's a call to evacuate, they'll need your help, too.

Reported by: Liz Flynn, lflynn@wtoc.com