The Cop Column
October, 2004
Sgt. Rick Hord
Public Information Officer

Some Ivan Postscripts...

A few random thoughts and observations after Hurricane Ivan...

*What, no beer? Under state law, the Sheriff of a county or appropriate city official in a municipality may prohibit the sale of alcoholic beverages during a state of emergency. In Okaloosa County, however, the County Commissioners have removed all discretion. The alcohol prohibition is automatic by county ordinance. This seems to catch a lot of people by surprise with every hurricane.

*The gas lines. The long lines may not have been entirely due to folks forgetting to gas up the car. Many people had failed to anticipate fuel for the generator they already owned, or the one they ended up borrowing or purchasing. Next time, remember to use lawn mower cans and boat fuel tanks to store extra gasoline.

*Can my family find me? Here's a great suggestion: designate an out of town relative or friend as the central contact point for your widely-scattered loved ones. That will save a lot of phone traffic into and out of the affected area. Make sure everybody knows about the plan in advance.

*Can I find my way out... or back in? Does your car have good, recent-vintage road maps? Evacuees with maps enjoyed a tremendous advantage, as they were able to find lightly-traveled back roads while others endured hour after hour on jammed Interstates.

*Some small things for your "Hurricane Kit." We all know to stock up on drinking water, batteries, and canned food. But also remember some less obvious items: a lighter-plug charging cord for the cellular telephone; aerosol flat tire fixer; paper plates and plastic forks; lots of plastic trash bags; plenty of paper towels; old fashioned (non-electric) can opener; oil lamp; advance prescription refills; first aid supplies. Two important pre-storm chores: catch up on the laundry and give the dog a good bath.

*Yes, bad guys do take advantage of others' misfortune. I counted more than 50 theft and burglary reports directly related to the storm, plus many others that were probably indirectly hurricane-related. The miscreants seem to have been spread more-or-less equally throughout our county: half a dozen reports in Crestview; two in Baker, one in Holt; eight in Destin; 4 in Mary Esther; another four in the Florosa/Wynnehaven/Parish Point area; at least three in the Niceville/Bluewater Bay area; at least 17 in the Fort Walton Beach/Ocean City/Wright area; five in Shalimar; and one on Okaloosa Island.

One Okaloosa Deputy placed his personal laptop computer in what he hoped would be the safest available place: his patrol car. Before dawn on Thursday, with the hurricane still raging, that patrol car, a large SUV, was pressed into service as an evacuation ferry. Ten children and their families were stranded by rising water already four feet deep. Deputies waded in and carried every one of them to safety. The people were safe, but the laptop wasn't. It vanished sometime during the rescue operation.