June 1, marked the beginning of hurricane season and forecasters with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are predicting “an above-normal” hurricane season for 2013.

What does this mean?

According to the May 20 report, which covered the entire Atlantic Basin for the six-month season, the prediction is the following for this year:

12 to 18 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which:
  six to 10 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including:
  six to eight major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher)

Fort Bragg has fared well in past hurricane seasons, but that does not mean that severe weather will not impact the area.

Many people remember all too well the devastation and destruction that resulted from the tornadoes that ripped through Fayetteville in 2011. One person died and at least 85 were injured when they struck on that late Saturday afternoon.

Michelle Harris, a Fort Bragg Family member, lived on Fort Bragg for nine years and has not forgotten that April 16 day that changed the way many people in the community react to a storm.

“We lost power that day on post but over where my sister lives off Ramsey Street, they got leveled,” said Harris.

Fort Bragg is urging community members to review their severe weather plans and to take extra precautions to prepare before a storm, tornado or hurricane prevails.

Individuals should maintain situational awareness of the weather and stay informed through Internet, television, military command channels and Family readiness groups. Soldiers and their Families will be notified of severe weather through the Giant Voice System, Facebook, radio station AM 1700, the post television channel, Channel 7 and the Fort Bragg website at www.bragg.army.mil.

In addition to staying aware of the weather, individuals and their Families should build a disaster kit and have a plan before a storm or disaster hits. The time to plan is now, not when an emergency strikes.

“I just got my car tuned up and I am ready to leave if I need to. I also have a boat, just in case,” said Kenny Cotton, of Spring Lake, N.C., and a Fort Bragg Family member.

In September 2008, the Army developed the Ready Army program to better inform, assist and prepare Soldiers, their Families, Army civilian, contractors and retirees in the event a disaster strikes. This Army Emergency Management Program provides step-by-step instructions and information to get a kit, make a plan and be informed.

Building a kit can be as easy as stocking up on extra supplies and necessary items.

After experiencing a hurricane, people learn of the power of the wind and rain and the provisions needed in the aftermath.

“As we showed in the immediate and long term recovery after the 2011 tornado, Fort Bragg is very well prepared to respond to natural disasters,” said Benjamin Abel, Fort Bragg spokesman. “The lessons that we have learned since 2011 have only refined our capacity to respond to unexpected events like tornadoes and hurricanes.”

Fort Bragg and North Carolina residents should also have their evacuation routes planned before a storm.

For more information about evacuation routes in North Carolina, go to www.ncdot.org/traffictravel/emergencyinfo/.

For more information about how to prepare, go to http://www.bragg.army.mil/directorates/readybragg/Pages/default.aspx.

(Editor’s note: Information obtained for this article from Ready Army at http://www.acsim.army.mil/readyarmy/.)