Atlantic Marine Corps Communities (AMCC) hosted the first Operation Weather Forum at the Paradise Point Officer’s Club on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, July 25. The forum was designed to help AMCC communities prepare for hurricanes and other severe weather.

Community leaders assembled at Operation Weather Forum with AMCC residents to discuss and inform the community on the upcoming hurricane season.

“The safety of AMCC residents is paramount,” said U.S. Navy Captain Miguel Dieguez, MCB Camp Lejeune assistant chief of staff of installation and environment. “We want to make sure everyone has a plan to keep their families and property safe.”

The forum featured vendor booths to distribute safety tips and contact information. Camp Lejeune Police and Fire were on scene with their vehicles for kids to explore.

“In the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, public works was out from day one” said Eric Carlson, MCB Camp Lejeune installation emergency manager. “We are blessed with the group we have on this installation, but that does not mean we need to get complacent. This will be an opportunity for the community to learn new information, make a plan and stay safe. People need to know what to do.”

Understanding the major storm systems that can affect the AMCC area is a good first step in being prepared. Storms are a potential threat to many Marine and Naval installations due to their proximity to the ocean. Adequate and timely warnings, coupled with prompt and effective actions by commanders, will minimize loss of life and damage to property. Keeping an eye on the various alert systems and media outlets is the best way to stay informed on all the latest storm news.

“During Hurricane Florence, we aimed to keep everyone informed with the most updated information possible,” said Nat Fahy, Marine Corps Installations East-MCB Camp Lejeune COMMSTRAT director.

“To better prepare for a storm, start gathering your hurricane survival kit,” said Shane Hinton, WCTI news Channel 12 meteorologist. “You should stock up five to seven days worth of supplies. (That includes) one gallon of water per day, for each member of your household including pets. You will need additional water for cleanup. Non-perishable food items, self-packaged juices, canned goods, a handheld can opener, batteries, flashlights, blankets, changes of clothes and a portable radio.”

When hurricanes get close to the coast, people need to be vigilant. There may be conditions under which they will need to get away or evacuate. When orders come through to leave, the circumstances will largely depend on where they live and the severity of the storm.

“You should have a plan for how you will assemble your family and anticipate where you will go,” Carlson said. “You should choose several destinations in different directions so you have options in the event of an emergency. Not only should this be a plan, but it should be a practiced plan that way when you tell your family it’s time to go they all grab their bags and they are ready to leave. If you have a car you should have a half of tank of gas at all times in your vehicle because, when power goes out, sometimes gas is soon to follow. You should have some cash on you because with no power, there are no ATMS.”

“Become familiar with alternate routes and other means of transportation out of your area,” says Samantha Royster, with the North Carolina Community Emergency Response Team. “Realize it can be two to three weeks before you can return due to road damage, flooding and the severity of the storm.”

Speakers reminded residents to have a plan. Other concepts were brought up as well, such as knowing where local shelters are if residents are forced to leave their homes, knowing whether the shelters will allow for animals, and understanding that shelters are rated by the storm strength that they can withstand. Depending on the severity of the storm, not all shelters will be open.

“If you do not have a car, plan on how you will leave if ordered to do so,” Carlson said. “Lock the door behind you. Take your pets with you but understand that only service animals will be permitted in most public places. Plan on how you’re going to care for your animal.”