Disasters happen; preparation is key

9/13/2018, 6 a.m.
We hope that Hurricane Florence will come and go quickly, and that damage to people and property will be minimal ...

We hope that Hurricane Florence will come and go quickly, and that damage to people and property will be minimal despite the National Weather Service’s predictions of a likely wallop by wind, rain and flooding.

We commend the early actions of Gov. Ralph S. Northam and Mayor Levar M. Stoney to get residents prepared. That includes the governor’s mandatory evacuation order for those living in low-lying, flood-prone coastal areas of Hampton Roads and the Eastern Shore. 

It is better to be safe than sorry, even in inland areas like Metro Richmond that may experience flooding with expected sustained rainfall.

We have not forgotten the devastation of Hurricane Isabel in 2003, that killed 36 people, knocked out power to nearly 2 million households and produced damage estimated at $1.85 billion in Virginia alone. About 20 inches of rain fell during that storm in parts of the commonwealth.

In 2004 with Tropical Storm Gaston, Metro Richmond was drenched with up to 12 inches of rain that swamped Shockoe Bottom, overwhelming storm drains. Nine people were killed and damages were estimated at $130 million, with some businesses taking months to recover.

These storms are not to be taken lightly. Preparation is key for safety. We urge residents to band together, check on family, neighbors, friends and strangers. 

 Despite the mendacious rhetoric from the White House, it has taken 11 months for electric power to be largely restored to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria struck on Sept. 20, 2017. The death toll in the nation’s unofficial 52nd state — counting Washington, D.C. — was reported at nearly 3,000 people. 

Surely, with Hurricane Florence’s arrival this week, and knowing that the 2018 hurricane season officially doesn’t end until Nov. 30, we hope that Congress will restore $9.8 million to FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency that provides assistance to states and people during such disasters.

Recent media reports show that the Trump administration transferred the money from FEMA’s budget to ICE, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, to fund additional detention camps. 

Such transfers help no one. We ask Congress to stop the manmade disasters and restore the money to FEMA and sanity to Washington. Natural disasters happen. We must be prepared to handle them.