Hurricane Earl's local impact should be limited to a high surf and dangerous rip currents.
That's bad enough. A roiled surf eating away at a sandy shoreline can do serious damage.
But Hurricane Earl's greatest impact here should be to prepare us for the peak of the hurricane season. Though the season starts in June, it seems that our greatest threats begin in late August. Now's the time to get ready.
Hurricane Earl should remind businesses and individuals that they must be as well-prepared for a hurricane as the local, state and federal governments are required to be.
It should be a reminder to have insurance coverage intact, an emergency kit prepared and an evacuation plan in place for people and pets.
A great deal of stress can be relieved if simple planning takes place well ahead of a hurricane swirling in the Atlantic Ocean.
Know what to take when you leave home: cash, insurance papers and contact numbers, road maps, prescription medications, inventory of valuable household goods, important family documents, a first aid kit, food, water, entertainment, clothing and bedding. The list is long.
It is important for families to know how to contact one another after disaster strikes. Experts recommend an out-of-town contact to communicate among separated family members because it might be easier to make a long-distance call than a local call. All family members should be taught to use text messaging, because it can sometimes get through when a phone call cannot.
Know the plan for the seniors in your family. Don't allow them be left in harm's way.
Know how to prepare your home and yard for a hurricane.
Know how to best avoid long lines for gasoline, groceries and building supplies.
Know that a hurricane threat requires patience on the highway, and the potential for long periods in the car.
Be prepared for special conditions upon returning after a hurricane. The safety checklist is long, as are practical suggestions such as how to clean and stop the spread of mold. Be mindful that access to your property might not be allowed as soon as the storm passes.
This is only a brief sketch of things that must be considered at this time of year.
All personal advance planning, preparation, communication and coordination will pay huge dividends later.
Hurricane Earl can remind us why planning is important. Hurricane Katrina five years ago taught the nation that the worst is possible. It can happen. Be prepared.