Gov. Bentley visits Clanton for hurricane exercise

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley and other state officials visited the Alabama Emergency Operations Center in Clanton on Wednesday for an annual hurricane preparedness exercise.

The hurricane season begins June 1.

Bentley said that while there has not been a serious hurricane affect the state during his time as governor, it is important to remember the threat posed by the storms and other natural disasters.

Time to prepare: Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley speaks at a press conference as part of an annual hurricane preparedness exercise held Wednesday. (Photos by Stephen Dawkins)

Time to prepare: Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley speaks at a press conference as part of an annual hurricane preparedness exercise held Wednesday. (Photos by Stephen Dawkins)

“Alabama is, I believe, the best prepared state in the country for natural disasters,” Bentley said.

The governor said the priorities of state officials are to warn, protect and help people in the event of a disaster—and to help those affected recover afterward.

“We’re just telling the people here today thank you for what they do and also assure our citizens that we will be prepared,” Bentley said.

Alabama Emergency Management Agency Director Art Faulkner said that while the focus of hurricane preparedness is often on the Gulf Coast, a strong hurricane could affect any county in the state.

“Everybody in the state of Alabama needs to be preparing over the next couple of weeks,” Faulkner said. “Our preparation is for naught unless citizens are also prepared.”

Faulkner said a failure to prepare also endangers first responders.

“It’s not fair to put them at risk because you failed to prepare,” he said.

On the same page: Alabama Emergency Management Agency Director Art Faulkner and representatives of other state agencies spoke at the event.

On the same page: Alabama Emergency Management Agency Director Art Faulkner and representatives of other state agencies spoke at the event.

Jim Stefkovich with the National Weather Service said the agency will release its official forecast on May 27, but regardless of the outlook, preparedness is important.

“What we have to focus on is that one storm that makes landfall in Alabama can be horrific,” he said.

Base of operations: The hurricane preparedness exercise was held at the Alabama Emergency Operations Center in Clanton.

Base of operations: The hurricane preparedness exercise was held at the Alabama Emergency Operations Center in Clanton.

Representatives of the Alabama Department of Transportation and Alabama Law Enforcement Agency also spoke about their agencies’ roles in preparing for and responding to natural disasters.

Bentley said he thinks Alabama is prepared because officials have stressed it but also because of the amount of natural disasters the state has had to deal with.

“Sometimes preparation occurs after you’ve had to go through difficulty,” Bentley said. “Trials make us stronger.”

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