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Beat the Storm

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Emily Smallwood
  • 33rd Fighter Wing

As Hurricane season quickly approaches, our Nomads must prepare to take the necessary safety precautions in the event of Mother Nature’s wrath. Hurricanes and tropical storms can do excessive damage, which is why every Airman and their families should have a disaster plan in place.

First, know the hurricane conditions, or HURCONs. Air Force installations use these levels to alert Airmen of the phases of a nearing storm.

HURCON 5 – Destructive winds possible within 96 hours

HURCON 4 – Destructive winds possible within 72 hours

HURCON 3 – Destructive winds possible within 48 hours

HURCON 2 – Destructive winds anticipated within 24 hours

HURCON 1 – Destructive winds anticipated within 12 hours

HURCON conditions can change very rapidly, monitor your local weather and stay in touch with leadership to be up-to-date on the current condition.


"You definitely don't want to wait until the last minute,” said Master Sgt. Russell Fontaine, 33rd Fighter Wing Plans and Programs superintendent. “The gas stations will be packed, grocery stores will be cleaned out and you might not get what you need. It's better to have what you need ahead of time to avoid that."

To prepare for a hurricane, put together a family disaster kit that includes, but is not limited to:

Water - one gallon per person per day for a minimum of three days

Food - at least a three day supply of non-perishable food (ex: canned foods)

Flashlights and extra batteries

First Aid Kit

Medicine – at least a week supply of prescription medicine

Important documents in waterproof container

Battery powered radio and extra batteries

Review your homeowner or renters insurance policy for flood insurance, if applicable to you. It takes up to 30 days for new flood insurance policies to take effect.

Evacuation Plan

Next, decide where you will go in the event of an evacuation. Eglin Air Force Base has evacuation shelter support agreements with Fort Benning, Ga., and Robins AFB, Ga., for families that don’t have somewhere safe to go.

"In HURCON 4, the base will issue a voluntary evacuation order, meaning if people want to take leave to evacuate sooner they can but it is not mandatory,” said Fontaine. “Once HURCON 3 hits, the base commander will order a mandatory evacuation or a shelter in place order."

Take Action

If mandated, secure your homes and evacuate as soon as possible. Ensure you have a family disaster kit for your car and your gas tank is full, with at least a half tank at all times. Keep cash in case of power outage and debit/credit card machines are down.

"If mandatory evacuation is announced, Airmen will be able to use their government travel card to pay for hotel, food and things of that nature,” said Fontaine. 

Stay alert and stay in communication with leadership and subordinates, if possible.


Once the storm has passed, follow up with your leadership for when to return. Always keep your leadership informed of your location.

When returning home, assess the damages that may have been done. Take photos and document the incident. If your home is not in livable condition, let leadership know.

Our goal at the 33rd FW is to make sure every Airman and their families are safe and always prepared for hurricane season. Take proper action and know how to beat the storm. Don’t be caught unprepared!