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Prepare for the not so unexpected

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Hurricane season began June 1 and ends Nov. 30. We're one-third of the way through the season and have been spared from hurricanes, so it's easy to think we won't have a major storm this year. As last week's hurricane exercise shows, however, we as servicemembers should always be prepared for the unexpected.

Hurricanes shouldn't be unexpected on the East Coast. We have been hit hard in recent years by hurricanes, tropical storms, tornadoes, thunderstorms and lightning. We have had three named tropical storms in the Atlantic Ocean this hurricane season, including Tropical Storm Chantal this week. The storm headed northeast, far away from Florida. While you might think the Sharks weren't affected, our newest range station, Argentia, Newfoundland, was directly in the storm's path.

Some of us have been on the Space Coast for a while and know what to expect. Even if you're an old hand at dealing with storms, while others are brand new to the area, don't become complacent!

Prepare today, not when a storm is brewing. Even if there is no evacuation, you need to stock up on the correct supplies. Have a home emergency plan. Make sure your hurricane kits are in order in case of evacuation. Make sure you have sufficient water, food and supplies, and make plans in advance for your pets.

Stay informed throughout the process. Listen to your chain of command and do not fail to read all formal wing messages - that is how we communicate critical information such as CDC hours, evacuation authorizations, recovery actions, and all of the info that you need to know! Be aware that the wing directives can change for different types of storms - there is no "generic" hurricane! A "Katrina" and an "Ernesto" require wholly different responses.

Pay attention to detail! Keep available at all times your recall roster, evacuation contact information and your Smart Card. Store hazards and secure any loose items outside your house. Keep abreast of weather reports, and follow all instructions from your command and Brevard County authorities.

For further information, see the Missileer Hurricane Guide and the Hurricane Guide, written by the 45th SW Readiness and Emergency Management Flight. Both of these are excellent information tools posted on the wing Web site.

Being prepared and remaining safe are the keys to our mission success. Go Sharks!