Are you ready for some hurricanes?

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Column by Jim Clark

By Jim Clark

As I write this, I’m sitting at home watching The Weather Channel (does that say something about my exciting life?) and one of the “experts” came on and said something that frightened me: “What could be the season’s first tropical storm might be forming in the eastern Atlantic.”

Now that sentence is filled with “could be” and “might be,” but it’s still something that wakes you up a little …  we’re in the heart of hurricane season.

Between now and the end of September the tropics are usually very active. At this time last year we had already seen five named storms. So far, knock on wood, all has been quiet this year.

It doesn’t hurt to be ready, just in case. A couple of weeks ago, just before I got here, the staff put together a special section on the storms and being prepared. I just want to echo what all the experts say: If you wait until a storm is almost upon us, you’re running late.

Around here, it seems likely that the two things to fear most are flooding and wind damage. It would take a pretty mighty storm surge to work its way this far inland, but a foot or more of rain, driven by hurricane force winds, could cause enough problems for Ocala.

I remember many years ago going to visit my parents, and they took us to a low traffic circle just a couple of blocks east of Fort King Middle School. It looked like a large lake … you would have never known there was a road underneath all that water. About 16 inches of rain did the damage at that time.

We had 11 inches of rain during a storm a few years back, and the damage wasn’t quite that severe.

Of course, if it looks real bad, I hope you have a place to go to if you decide to evacuate. Again, plan ahead in knowing what you’re going to do.

If you escape the damage, you’re probably going to be sitting in the dark (and muggy heat). Power failures are common when these storms strike, and sometimes it takes days to get things back to functioning properly. That’s why having non-perishable food and lots of drinking water available is one of the things to do (to say nothing of flashlights, of course, and no candles, please).

So do the prudent thing. Get yourselves in a “get ready” mode, accumulating stuff that you will use anyway, even if the weather stays good, but things that will provide for you in the event of a natural disaster.

Meanwhile, keep an eye on The Weather Channel, which does its tropical update about 50 minutes after each hour. That way you’ll know what might be coming …  and then you can go back to a more exciting day.

Jim Clark is editor of the South Marion Citizen. He can be reached at 854-3986 or at editor@smcitizen.com.