Cape Region officials urge disaster preparedness
may be the luckiest state on the Eastern Seaboard. For the last 100
years, the lowest-lying state in the country has been spared a direct
hit by a hurricane. But luck will run out one day, and state and local
officials want the Cape Region’s residents to be ready.
built a life for yourself here,” said Danielle Swallow, a coastal hazard
specialist with Delaware Sea Grant. “You’ve worked really hard to get
into the place you are today, living in a community like Lewes. Now
protect the life you’ve built.”
Swallow was one of several
presenters at a Sept. 21 workshop about emergency planning for older
adults and people with disabilities. Many of the tips and information
presented apply to all area residents.
Lewes Mayor Ted Becker said
there are a few simple steps to prepare. Lewes residents can sign up
for CodeRED, an emergency notification system to alert property owners
and residents of information you need to know in the event of local
emergencies or disruptions in service. CodeRED is also available in
Milton. All Sussex County residents can sign up for Smart911, a
supplemental data service that allows you to create a safety profile
that can be seen by emergency responders when you call 911. All
information could be vital in the case of an emergency.
said it’s important to have a emergency plan in case disaster strikes
suddenly. That often involves a plan for pets, Becker said.
animals are a big part of being prepared for an emergency,” he said.
“Animals are a very big part of our lives, especially those of us who
Becker said many people affected by Hurricane
Florence in September opted to stay because they didn’t want to leave
their pets. Others decided to leave them behind. Hundreds of pets were
rescued in the Carolinas, including several dozen that were transported
The state hazard mitigation plan’s top two potential
hazards are coastal flooding and storms, both tropical storms and
nor’easters. For those who live along the coast, the people most likely
affected by coastal storms, Swallow said, it’s extremely important to be
Sometimes you can’t avoid the disruption, like a
hurricane, she said, but being prepared can make it manageable and speed
up the time to recover.
Tips include having an emergency kit,
setting up a safety plan to contact loved ones, establishing a plan for
pets and protecting valuables.
For residents in flood-prone areas, she said, it is very important to have flood insurance.
“I know it can be costly, but it’s an important safety net,” Swallow said.
Hurricane Harvey in Houston, she said the people who had federal flood
insurance received an average of $113,000, while those who did not
received just $4,000 on average.
“Consider 1 inch of water in
your house can cause $25,000 worth of damage,” she said. “It’s important
to plan ahead and have insurance.”
Chatham Marsch, a Lewes police
officer and Rehoboth firefighter, urged people to heed the warnings of
emergency officials and evacuate when asked. Officials typically give
48- to 72-hour notice of evacuation, he said.
“We ask you to
leave, but we can’t make you,” he said. “Don’t get offended when I ask
for your nearest relative and a phone number.”
director of Sussex County Emergency Operations Center for the last 21
years, said the county has more than 40 potential shelter locations, typically high schools. However, he said, people want to avoid going to shelters.
you have the ability and you’ve got the time, you should have a plan in
place,” he said. “Go to friends or family outside the area. Go to a
hotel. You don’t want to wait until the last minute and think you’re
going to get out on the road and out of harm’s way because I guarantee
you won’t be the only one out there.”
Originally featured in the Cape Gazette. Cape Gazette article by Nick Roth.
About the Institute for Public Administration
University of Delaware’s Institute for Public Administration (IPA) addresses
the policy, planning, and management needs of its partners through the
integration of applied research, professional development, and the education of