Red flag, Black center square, Danger!

The time to prepare for a big storm is now!

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Editor’s note: This is one in a continuing series of guest opinions about fostering environmental
stewardship and leadership coordinated by ACES — The Alliance of Climate and Environmental

In US maritime warning flag systems, a red square shaped nautical flag with a black square on the inside is used to warn of hurricanes. If one flag is used, it indicates a storm warning, while two flags indicate a hurricane warning. When a hurricane is headed our way, we urgently need the equivalent flags to go up over all the coastal town apparatus of Essex County. 
Hurricane season was declared to have begun on June 1st by NOAA. And almost as soon as that day passed a tropical storm formed and was named Arlene. NOAA says this hurricane season is likely to be normal. But normal is not good really. In the case of greater Newburyport with its beaches and barrier islands the damage can be substantial when one hits us. Of course, the right word is ‘when’ not ‘if’ because we have always had big storms and with climate change the big storms are bigger and longer lasting.

It’s too bad that ’normal’ has come to mean so much destruction of life and property in the last few years. It is critical that everyone understands their risk and heeds the warnings of state and local officials. Whether you live on the coast or further inland, hurricanes can cause serious impacts to everybody in their path. 
It’s a good reminder that we need to be thoughtful about short- and long-term preparedness. Here in greater Newburyport, we’ve already taken some actions locally, to prepare for long-term protection against sea level-related harm from big storms. Newburyport is dealing with the bulkhead along the boardwalk and upgrading City storm water structure, citizens have been planting dune grasses, and Federal money has helped by replenishing sand on beaches. 
We all know the comments that ensue when ‘everybody’ is in Shaw’s or Market Basket at the same time stocking up on water and tuna fish. But good preparation also includes knowing your evacuation plans if that becomes necessary. More importantly, ACES advisors advocate that you take seriously and act on public safety recommended evacuations and don’t put fire and police at risk to come get you off Plum Island or Salisbury Beach. It’s good to have that extra water (big bottles), but better to be out of harm’s way if that becomes necessary.

We’re balanced on the edge of a ‘Climate Cliff” !  Climate change is real. 100-year floods are expected to recur every 9 years, on average, under a high greenhouse gas emissions scenario and every 21 years under a low emissions scenario per a Massachusetts Wildlife report” Our response individually and collectively to climate change has become a priority for elected leaders to plan for and this season, right now, it’s our job to plan for when the next big storm hits our community and be ready to protect your family and your property.

The time to prepare for our next big storm is now.

ACES Youth Corps team members ask readers to consider the value of being prepared for the
wellbeing of our future generations and sign up for ACES’s free newsletter to stay in touch with
climate and environmental actions you can take locally to preserve and protect our Earth, our
homes, and our families. Please share any thoughts by sending us a note at . To learn more about ACES and its Initiatives,

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