Hurricane Season runs from June 1 to November 30 and Tornado Season is April to July. Each year hurricanes and tornados wreak havoc across the country. For many military families it may be the first time you have lived in an area affected by these storms. It is important to be prepared with emergency supplies. Both your local commissaries and military exchanges are prepared to help you.
Service members and their families can plan for that disruption by using their commissary benefit to purchase emergency supplies, said Army Command Sgt. Maj. Tomeka N. O’Neal, the Defense Commissary Agency’s senior enlisted advisor to the DeCA director.
“When the storm comes and all of a sudden you have no electricity, or you cannot get to the grocery store, which may also be closed – what’s your plan?” O’Neal said. “Before a bad day gets even worse, think ahead and save money as you use your commissary to help prepare for that emergency event.”
This year is scheduled to be a more average season but 2019 saw around 1500 tornadoes, one of the most active seasons on record and 18 named storms with six becoming hurricanes according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Tornadoes often occur with little time to prepare and although you have more notice with a hurricane, long lines and last minute rushes to purchase emergency supplies can leave you without what you need.
The Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) is offering a severe weather promotional package from April through October 31. The package includes discounts on these items: beef jerky and other assorted meat snacks, soup and chili mixes, canned goods, powdered milk, cereals, batteries, airtight bags, weather-ready flashlights, tape (all-weather, heavy-duty shipping and duct), first aid kits, lighters, matches, lanterns, candles, hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial wipes. Specific items may vary from store to store.
“Throughout the year we advise our customers to be ready for any emergency, natural or manmade,” O’Neal said. “Even with the COVID-19 outbreak, we still want our customers to be prepared. However, regardless of the situation, we recommend that they calmly purchase what they need and avoid any panic buying to ensure products are available for others in their communities.”
The Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) also has a plan to support military shoppers during storm season. During the 2019 storm season AAFES shipped almost 150,000 emergency supplies to stores up and down the East coast for Hurricane Dorian allowing stores to stay open. “The Exchange is all in to serve, especially during disasters,” said Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Luis Reyes, the Exchange’s senior enlisted advisor. “Should our stores be affected by a hurricane, we have internal processes in place and the experience to ensure water, batteries, flashlights, generators and other critical supplies are pushed to areas they are most needed.”
There is an Exchange Disaster Support Group (DSG) which reviews plans and guidance before each storm season. If a storm hits, mobile field exchanges (MFEs) are ready to deploy to support military first responders. Each MFE is a 53-foot trailer with emergency supplies, toiletries, snacks and drinks. “No other retailer does what the Exchange does,” Reyes said. “The Exchange stands ready to provide a ray of sunshine in the wake of a natural disaster and bring a bit of comfort and normalcy to an otherwise dire situation.”
Suggested Supplies for an Emergency Kit
Includes recommendations both for an evacuation or remaining at home. When preparing, plan for a three-day supply for evacuation and two-weeks if you are remaining at home. Think in terms of no running water or electricity.
- Water – at least one gallon daily, per person (three-day supply for evacuation, two-week supply for home)
- Nonperishable foods – canned meats, fruits, vegetables, dried fruits, nuts, raisins, cereal, crackers, cookies, energy bars, granola, peanut butter, and foods for infants and the elderly (three-day supply for evacuation, two-week supply for home)
- Paper goods – writing paper, paper plates, paper towels and toilet paper
- Writing utensils – pens, pencils (manual pencil sharpeners), markers
- Cooking items – pots, pans, baking sheets, cooking utensils, charcoal, a grill and a manual can opener
- First-aid kit – including bandages, medicines and prescription medications
- Cleaning materials – bleach, sanitizing spray, and hand and laundry soap
- Toiletries – personal hygiene items and moist wipes
- Pet care items – food, water, muzzle, leash, carrier, medications, medical records, and identification and immunization tags
- Lighting accessories – flashlights, batteries, candles and matches
- Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
- Duct tape, scissors
- Multipurpose tool
- Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates and insurance policies)
- Cell phone with chargers
- Family and emergency contact information
- Extra cash
- Emergency blanket
- Maps of the area
- Blankets or sleeping bags
Marguerite Cleveland is a freelance writer who specializes in human interest and travel stories. She is a military brat, a veteran and now a military spouse. Her military experience is vast as the daughter of a Navy man who served as an enlisted sailor and then Naval Officer. She served as an enlisted soldier in the reserves and on active duty, then as an Army Officer. She currently serves as a military spouse. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two sons. Visit her website www.PeggyWhereShouldIGo.com