When hurricanes approach, Americans who live far from a coastal area will watch the news of their development with interest but minimal concern. But the circumstances surrounding Tropical Storm Erin — which wasn’t even a hurricane — force us to rethink that position.

The storm that Erin brought ashore was almost a non-event, relatively speaking, for the Texas Gulf Coast. Much more attention was being given to Hurricane Dean, a monster of a storm brewing in the Atlantic.

Erin arrived, and its winds quickly diminished over land. But its rains did not. Remnants of the tropical storm moved through Texas, Oklahoma and headed north into Ohio and Minnesota, dumping so much rain that flooding became common across the nation’s Midwest. Tragically, several lives were lost in the disaster.

Erin provided a harsh reminder that even thousands of miles of separation don’t always protect people from the effects of a tropical storm, and that lesser systems can do as much or more damage inland as a Category 5 hurricane. Preparation and awareness are key to personal safety and protection of property when these storms hit land and move across the country.

Brownwood Bulletin