tornado

People watch from the Liberty Memorial as a severe storm that dropped several tornados earlier approaches downtown Kansas City, Mo. Tuesday, May 28, 2019.

It's undeniable--weather is getting more severe, and though the Atlantic Ocean really starts to churn up later in the season, it's not just hurricanes Delawareans should be worried about.  

"We've seen a very wet summer; we've seen these pop-up storms these past two months that have caused significant damage--road closures...we had a tornado in Laurel back in April," said Delaware Emergency Management Director A.J. Schall, who also serves as chief of the Aetna Hose Hook & Ladder Volunteer Fire Company.

And the world hasn't been spared Mother Nature's wrath.  

"We've had the hottest weather, hottest summers in the last 10, 15, 20 years of any time in the history of our country....we've had periods of rain, so intense in Ellicott City, [Maryland], two years ago, where they had two, 1,000-year floods in an 18-month period...we've seen vast flooding in the Midwest--farmers not able to plant their crops, even today facing great threats," said U.S. Senator Tom Carper. "While we've had a whole lot of rain over here, and it's hard for farmers to plant crops as well. In northern California, Oregon, Washington--they have firestorms, wildfires bigger than our state, and more Category 5 hurricanes in the last three or four years than, I think, any time in the last 100 years."  

While illustrating the reasons why Delawareans should be prepared for a wide-range of disasters, Schall emphasized the need for emergency preparedness kits, which should include food, bottled water, batteries, and other supplies for you and your family, including pets, for up to three days.  

"Sometimes that might be challenging for people, so piecemeal it together. Every time you go to the grocery store, pick up a few things, put them in the kit, in the Rubbermaid thing in the closet," he recommended.

He urged Delawareans not to forget to check on their neighbors, and don't forget to include your pets in your planning.

"People don't want to leave their pets, and we don't want somebody staying behind, if they're asked to leave because they don't know what they're doing with their pets," said Schall.  

MaryAnn Tierney, FEMA Regional Administrator for Region III, advised Delawareans to know their evacuation zone in advance.

"If you are asked to evacuate by state or local officials, you should leave at the time they ask you to evacuate.  Please do not delay your evacuation--you could be stranded and first responders will not be able to reach you," she said.  

She also advised residents in low-lying areas to have flood insurance to avoid financial ruin in the event of a disaster.

"A lot of people think FEMA is going to make you whole after a disaster...the average grant that we provide is only $5,000 or less. The average amount of money that you can get by having flood insurance is over $110,000," she said Tierney.

County Executive Matt Meyer said recent collaborations with FEMA, DEMA, and the American Red Cross, ensure the county is fully prepared in the event of an emergency or disaster. He also touted the efforts of 24/7 heroes like the New Castle County police, paramedics, and volunteer fire service to respond to emergencies. But also touted a citizens emergency response certificate course, enacted under the leadership of emergency management coordinator Dave Carpenter

"So we have citizen activists, who are prepared to be like first responders in the case of a dramatic incident like a hurricane," said Meyer. "In addition, our land use policies and practices have changed such that FEMA--just a few months ago, changed our designation with respect to flood insurance. We're not building in flood zones the way we used to, and that creased flood insurance for homeowners across our county by 10 percent," Meyer.

Carper also pointed to development in Sussex County.

"Down in the Indian River Inlet...they have the opportunity to build, in our other inland bays, as sea levels rise, to build more walls, and what we've figured out is it makes more sense to use Mother Nature...marshes and so forth serve as a bumper against the bad weather," he said.

In his remarks Monday at the New Castle County Emergency Operations Center, Carper stressed preventative measures, but also urged to fight back against what he called the "root causes" of increased severe weather in global warming and climate change.  

"We have to focus on the root causes of these problems, and the reasons why we're getting all this crazy weather...all over, not just Delaware, not just Delmarva, and not just the United States, not just the East Coast, all over the world. There's a reason why this is happening, and we have to be smart enough to be able to address that, at the same time that we prepare and make ourselves safer here in this planet that's been entrusted to us."