N.H. Safety Leader: Hurricane Harvey a 'Wake-Up Call'

Sep 5, 2017

New Hampshire is unlikely to bear the direct brunt of a storm like Hurricane Harvey, but the state has experienced its share of disasters, from historic flooding to a tornado that killed a Northwood woman in 2008.

It’s those sudden or “no-notice” storms that keep Perry Plummer, director of New Hampshire Homeland Security and Emergency Management, on his guard. He wishes more people were prepared for major storms.

“We as citizens are under-prepared for disasters in this country,” Plummer said. “It’s a wake-up call for everybody.”

Plummer’s office, which provides tips for personal emergency plans on ReadyNH.gov, recommends residents have three days of food, water, and any needed medicines. It’s part of their all-hazards approach, including signing up for emergency alerts via an app.

It’s a never-ending public awareness campaign, which is why Plummer gave a nod of appreciation to Brock Long, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, for saying last weekend that states must improve their disaster readiness.

The call for greater preparation comes as Hurricane Irma bears down on Florida, where Gov. Rick Scott has called a state of emergency.

Plummer continues to follow Harvey recovery efforts with an eye on lessons to learn for a disaster in New Hampshire. Like the Alstead floods in 2005, severe weather from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Irene in 2011, and the tornado in 2008, in which 57-year-old Brenda Stevens died while protecting her stepson’s infant son.

Those severe storms are why Plummer, in conjunction with the governor’s office and related public safety agencies, conduct exercises to boost planning, preparation, response, and recovery efforts. The Atlantic hurricane season has them running through possible scenarios.

“We’ve been doing a lot of brainstorming here. How would we handle that? What would we need to do?” he said. “We just don’t know what’s around the corner.”

The National Hurricane Center is tracking "Irma" has it approaches Florida.
Credit National Hurricane Center - NOAA

New Hampshire Disaster Declarations: 1953-Present (via NH Dept. of Safety)

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