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Now is the time to prepare

Time has a way of eroding our memories.

Ten years ago, “Ivan the Terrible” ripped across the Gulf Coast.

We, of course, are not talking about the Russian tsar. We’re talking about the Category 3 hurricane that devastated a large portion of the Southeast.

Ivan made its first U.S. landfall on Sept. 16 just west of Gulf Shores, Ala. Its strongest winds were experienced near the Alabama-Florida border.

Wind and high surf caused extensive damage to Innerarity Point, Fla., and Orange Beach, Ala. In Florida, the storm surge took out portions of the Interstate 10 bridge system in Pensacola Bay.

In Escambia County, Fla., alone debris piles were more than three-quarters of a mile long and 70 feet high.

Hurricanes are a part of life in Florida, not south central Alabama — or so we thought.

Ivan’s reign of terror extended to Butler County and beyond.

When Ivan roared onto shore its slow march north and 100 mile per hour winds ravaged south Alabama, scattering trees and power lines across Greenville and Butler County and causing considerable damage to residential areas. Some homes went weeks without power and water.

In Alabama, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) more than $190 million in grants to more than 89,200 applicants through the Individuals and Households Program for lodging expenses, rental assistance, minor home repairs and other needs assistance, and more than $222 million for emergency protective measures, or for the repair or replacement of public infrastructure and public utilities.

Florida received more than $859 million in aid, while North Carolina received $45 million in assistance and Mississippi and Georgia received $22.5 and $15, respectively.

In all, Ivan was the most destructive hurricane to affect this area in more than 100 years.

While Ivan certainly changed the way many of us view the threat of a hurricane in the gulf, time has a funny way of causing us to forget.

In the months, weeks and even years after Ivan, we took every threat seriously. Now, we may run to the store and grab a loaf of bread, some peanut butter and jelly, and milk.

As an aside, does anyone know why we buy milk when we are expecting the power to go out?

But we don’t often expect the storm to reach us, much like in 2004 when we thought Ivan would be someone else’s problem somewhere else.

Then it landed in our backyard.

September marks National Preparedness Month, and this week’s anniversary of Hurricane Ivan is an opportune time to plan for specific needs before a disaster.

The time to prepare for the next hurricane is now.

For tips on how to create a family emergency plan and build an emergency kit, visit ready.gov.

Let’s all take a page from the Boy Scouts’ handbook and be prepared.