Children Need Facts , Reassurance
During A Hurricane
BY SUSAN USHER
What about the kids?
When a hurricane threatens, it is easy for adults to
get caught up in their own concerns for securing physi
cal safety. When the storm passes, their first response is
that of relief.
In either case it is ali too easy to ignore the emo
tional needs of children. In Coping with Children's
Reactions to Hurricanes and Other Disasters, the staff
of the San Fernando Valley Child Guidance Clinic in
Northridgc, Calif., reminds us that fear is a normal re
action to danger that threatens life or well-being and
that a child's fears may continue even after that threat
no longer exists.
The Brunswick Beacon talked with two school sys
tem guidance counselors on their experiences with pri
mary school children and hurricanes. Their training and
experience suggests that children need both information
and reassurance when coping wills a fear-inducing
event such as a hurricane.
"A young child is centered on self," said Sue Chap
man, a guidance counselor at Union Primary School.
Youngsters expect a certain dependability from adults
and from nature. Anything that disrupts familiar sur
roundings or a familiar routine can cause a child to ex
perience anxiety and fear.
How a child handles a threatening situation often
When an unusual situation
occurs, the ability of some
parents to reassure their child
may be impaired, particularly
when they themselves may be
mirrors their parents' response. Parents set the tone.
Reassurance with firmness is an effective approach;
gelling angry, spanking or shouting rarely help.
Parents need to remember that the child isn't trying
to disrupt the family, only to case his own fears.
Parents routinely help children cope with fears en
countered every day. However, when an unusual situa
tion occurs, the ability of some parents to reassure their
child may be impaired, particularly when themselves
may be frightened. Being unable to turn to adults for re
assurance can make a child even more fearful.
"Parents scare their children sometimes with their
own reactions, said Mrs. Chapman. "It is important
for parents to get their emotions in check."
That can be hard to do; she knows. Even at the
school, while trying to deal in a straightforward fashion
with students' questions and concerns, teachers and
staff arc hastening to secure the campus.
What to do? While you can't control nature.stu
dents are told, you can prepare. Those who don't pre
pare are the most likely to comc to some harm.
"If people would just get ready that would take care
of a lot of the fear," concluded Mrs. Chapman.
Coupled with the reassurance that the family is to
gether and that the child will be looked after, it's OK
for a parent or other adult to admit he or she is afraid
also; that admission might even make it easier for a
child to talk about his or her own fears, real or imag
Children want and should be part of the family's
preparations for an emergency. They have a strong
need to know what is going on, and more specifically,
how it might affect them.
Most of the time what they need is information,
said Wendy Milligan, drop-out prevention coordinator
for the Brunswick County Schools and a former guid
ance counselor. She was a counselor at Union Primary
School when the school closed early a few years ago as
warnings were posted for a hurricane.
"Just give me the facts, then I can deal with them,"
she says of the students' general position. "Don't give
me false reassurances."
When a family is preparing to evacuate for a hurri
canc, for example, a child may want to know where the
family is going, how long they might be there and
whether a favorite pet or toy can be taken as well.
"A lot of them I talked to feared leaving home,"
she said, and returning that those familiar surroundings
aren't there any more.
"Wc tell them they may not be the same, but that
dial is OK, they can rebuild. It may look bad, but like in
Annie (a musical based on the comic strip character
LitUc Orphan Annie), there's always tomorrow," said
Mrs. Milligan. "It's tough, but you have to deal with it,
and there arc people who will pull together to help
Some students went with their families to a shelter
during a previous hurricane threat. "That was not a
good experience," she gathered from their comments,
and the memories were very much on their minds when
a warning was posted again.
But not all their memories of evacuation were nega
tive; some of the kids talked in terms of the positive.
"They said they liked the way everybody came to
gether, and the way their lifestyle slowed down-being
with their extended families, the cozincss of candles,"
she said. In the middle of their fears, students still en
joyed the adventure of it all.
Added Mrs. Chapman, "So far, we've been lucky.
We haven't had to deal with the aftermath."
Don't Let Hurricanes Catch You
Off Guard, Prepare
Ahead Of Time
wncn it comes to hurricancs, ex
perts agree that people should al
ways prepare early and prepare for
Federal Emergency Management
Agency officials say coastal resi
dents should begin getting ready for
hurricanes before a storm ever forms
"There's no doubt, you've got to
be prepared," Holden Beach Town
Manager Gary Parker said. "If
you're not prepared there's a much
greater possibility of loss of proper
ty and loss of life."
An escape route to the home of a
friend or relative inland or approved
Red Cross shelter should be picked
out well ahead of time.
As a general rule, emergency
management experts say people
shouldn't travel any farther than
necessary to find safety since roads
will probably be jammed.
Homeowners also should make a
comprehensive list of personal prop
erty and review their insurance poli
cies before hurricane season to
avoid problems down the road.
Basic supplies including emer
gency light sources, a portable radio
and a First aid kit should be kept
handy during the season, FEMA of
Coastal residents should make
sure they have flashlights and radios
with extra batteries, lanterns, can
Take Special Care In Securing Boats
BY DOUG RUTTF.R
Boat owners needs to take special precautions when a hurricane
All vessels that can be trailercd should be removed from the water
and stored in a safe place. Boaters from outside the area should plan
ahead for safe anchorage or follow local boaters to a safe anchorage area.
Filling a boat with water will weigh it down and could keep it from
being damaged in hurricane-force winds.
Larger boats that can't be trailered should be safely anchored in shel
tered areas well before storm tides arrive. Upstream sections of the
Shalloite and Lockwood Folly rivers have been used locally in the past
If possible, large boats should be anchored in groups and tied together
at the bows and stems using protective bumpers.
Each boat should have three or four substantial anchors. Bow lines
should be tied high to trees or pilings on the land, using a half hitch knot.
Ropes should have plenty of slack to allow for rising tides.
Don't tie up parallel to a bank, since receding tides often beach or
capsize boats secured in this fashion.
dies and matches. First aid kits
should include bandages and aspirin
plus any medication needed on a
Families also should have enough
food and water to last several days.
Foods that don't need to be cooked
or refrigerated such as canned
meats, vegetables, fruits and juices
Emergency management officials
say water should be stored in plastic
jugs or other covered containers.
Each person will need about one
quart of drinking water per day.
If necessary, baby supplies such
as food, canned milk or formula and
disposable diapers should be kept
handy for all emergencies.
Residents should stayed tuned to
radio or television broadcasts as
storms approach the coast and begin
preparing for possible evacuation as
soon as a hurricane watch or warn
ing is issued. A watch means that a
hurricane or incipient hurricane con
ditions may pose a threat to coastal
and inland communities. A hurri
cane warning warns that certain con
What Damaae Can It Do?
All hurricanes arc dangerous, but
some are more so than others.
The way storm surge, wind and
other factors combine determines
the hurricane's destructive power.
To make comparisons casier-and
to make the possible hazards clcarer,
such as potential property damage
and floodin-national forecasters use
a disaster potential scale, the
Saffir/Simpson, which assigns hurri
canes to five categories: Category 1
is a minimum hurricane; category 5
is a worst case storm.
Category 1: Winds 74 mph to 95
mph or storm surge 4 feet to 5 feet
above normal (Actual storm surge
values for any hurricane vary de
pending upon the coastline configu
ration and other factors.). No real
damage to building structures, with
damage primarily to unanchored
mobile homes, shrubbery and trees.
Some coastal road flooding and mi
nor pier damage may be expected.
Category 2: Winds % mph to
110 mph or storm surge 6 feet to 8
feet above normal. Roofing materi
al, door and window damage may
occur, with considerable damage to
vegetation, mobile homes and piers.
Coastal and low-lying evacuation
routes flood two to four hours before
arrival of center of storm. Small
craft in unprotected anchorages
break their moorings.
Category 3: Winds of 1 1 1 mph
to 130 mph or storm surge 9 feet to
12 feet above normal. Some struc
tural damage may occur to small
residences and utility buildings with
some curtainwall failures, and mo
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bile homes are destroyed. Flooding
near the coast destorys smaller
structures with larger structures
damaged by floating debris. Terrain
continuously lower than 5 feet
above sea level may be flooded in
land as far as 6 miles.
Category 4: Winds 131 mph to
155 mph or storm surge 13 feet to
18 feet above normal. More exten
sive curtainwall failures with some
complete roof structure failure on
small residences. Major erosion on
beaches; major damage to lower ele
vations of structures near the shore.
Terrain continously lower than 10
feet above sea level may be flooded,
requiring massive evacuation of res
idential areas inland as far as 6
Category 5: Winds greater than
155 mph or storm surge greater than
18 feet above normal. Complete
roof failure on many residences and
commercial buildings; some com
plete building failures with small
utility builidngs blown over or
away. Major damage to lower floors
of all structures located less than 15
feet above sea level and within 500
yards of the shoreline.
Massive evacuation of residential
areas on low ground within 5 miles
to 10 miles of the shoreline may be
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LITTLE RIVER, SC
dilions arc cxpcctcd in a spccificd
coastal area within 24 hours or less:
sustained winds of 74 mph or higher
and/or dangerously high water or a
combination of dangerously high
water and exceptionally high waves,
even though winds cxpcctcd may be
less than hurricanc force.
Nailing boards over doors and
large windows and putting masking
tape on small windows can help re
It's also a good idea to keep a full
tank of gas during hurricanc season
or fill up as soon as a watch is is
sued. Remember, gas pumps won't
work without electricity.
If you must evacuate, FEMA offi
cials say it's important to know
where you arc going, leave early and
leave during daylight if possible.
People should move their most
valuable possessions that they can't
take with them to the highest points
inside the house.
Before they cvacuatc, homeown
ers should lock doors and windows,
turn off water and clcctricity and do
everything they can to protect their
property from damage. Lawn furni
ture and garbage cans should be
moved inside or tied down securely.
Evacuees should keep important
papers such as driver's licenses and
other forms of identification with
them at all times. They should take
insurance policies, property invento
ry, medic alert information and
People who plan to stay in a shel
ter should remember to make
arrangements for their pets ahead of
time. Pets, weapons and alcoholic
beverages arc not allowed in Red
Cross shelters, though some church
es or other private facilities may al
Coastal residents should always
heed evacuation warnings. But peo
ple who choose to remain in their
homes should stay indoors and away
from doors and windows. They
should never attempt to drive during
a hurricane bccause flooding can be
erratic and may occur with little or
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