5th Grade Winning Essays
First Place: Xavier Hines
St. Ann School
Teacher: Marilyn Vallejo
Hurricanes are a scary weather event. My family has experienced Hurricanes
Ivan and Emily when we lived in Jamaica and Hurricanes Irene and Sandy in
Delaware. After the hurricanes in Jamaica, we saw tall palms on the ground, trees without leaves, roads flooded, and many houses without roofs. Many beaches were eroded and sand was on the roads and in people's houses.
Hurricane season is June 1- November 30, six months long. During the hurricane season my family and I listen to the news and weather every day. When we learned about Hurricane Sandy, we watched the weather reports and tracked the storm on the National Hurricane website. When we learned that the storm was coming to Delaware, we went grocery shopping and bought batteries, flashlights, movies, and extra food. Then we locked all the windows in our house and put all the things that could blow away in the yard and put them in the garage. Some of our neighbors put boards on their windows. We packed a bag of medicine, clothes, video games, and important papers in case we had to leave the house if the roof blew off or there was flooding.
During Hurricane Sandy, Rehoboth Beach received five inches rain and the storm surge washed away some of the sand dunes and beaches. The boardwalk and the houses nearby did not have much damage. But when the sand was washed away, the beach was left muddy and rocky. One mile of Delaware coastal wetlands were also damaged by the hurricane storm surge.
The Delaware wetlands are important for horseshoe crabs and migrating birds. During hurricanes, wetlands can absorb the water and prevent flooding to the land nearby. Dunes are sandy hills formed by the wind and protect the boardwalk and nearby houses form storm surge during hurricanes. To protect dunes it is important that people don't flatten dunes by walking or driving them. After the storm, Rehoboth Beach fixed their sand dunes and added new sand. They also replanted trees to repair the wetlands.
We are happy that the storm did not damage our house or our neighbors. But are sad to see all of the damage to the New Jersey beaches, boardwalks, and houses. I have learned a lot about hurricanes, wetlands, and dunes and why they are important.
Second Place: Olivia Sheetz
St. Ann School
Teacher: Marilyn Vallejo
After seeing the damage of Hurricane Sandy and learning more about coastal storms, I have many ideas and suggestions about how my family and coastal areas can be better prepared if a storm occurs.
In coastal communities, it is very important to prevent flooding by protecting and maintaining sand dunes and wetlands. Planting sea grass, planting trees and keeping these areas free of trash and pollution help keep storm waters from reaching houses and streets and lessen the chance of flood damage to the areas.
In the past, my family and I have prepared for bad weather by listening to the news. If they gave instructions, like stay indoors or keep away from windows, we have followed those directions. We watch the weather channel or listen to the radio in case there are any changes in the storm. We also make sure that anything outside, such as furniture, trash cans and plants are tied down or brought inside. My family also makes sure that we have canned food, batteries and water if we lose power or cannot get to a store during or after the bad weather.
After Hurricane Sandy, I have learned that there are more ways we can be prepared for severe weather. It is important to understand what type of storm is predicted. Some storms are more dangerous than others, like a hurricane. If the weather channel says it is a "storm watch," the storm is further away than if it is a "storm warning."
Next, always have a family emergency plan and practice it. Pick a place where you can meet if you get separated. Choose a place ahead of time where your family will stay, like a friend's house or shelter, if you have to evacuate. Have emergency phone numbers posted by your phone. Make sure that your windows, roof, basement and other parts of your house are in good condition so they won't get water or wind damage during a storm.
Finally, always have an emergency supply kit stocked and ready. Canned food, water, batteries, blankets, extra clothing, medicine, first aid kit, tools, flashlight, cash, important phone numbers, insurance information and a radio are some of the things that should be included in your kit. Keep it in a safe place that is easy to get to.
Being prepared for a storm will keep your family safe.
Third Place: Ryan Burke
Richard A. Shields Elementary
Teacher: Brandi Townsend
Coastal storms such as hurricanes can change our lives in a moment! A hurricane can create winds of 155 miles per hour. Winds like that can level buildings. Rain and rising waters can create dangerous flooding. People need to be prepared for these types of events.
Last year we lived through Hurricane Sandy. I remember feeling pretty nervous.
My family got ready for Hurricane
Sandy by stocking up on water and food that wouldn't spoil. We had lots of batteries for our flashlights and radio in case we lost power. My mom had candles on the counter along with a box of first aid supplies. We put all of our lawn furniture in the garage so it wouldn't blow around. My dad made sure we had gas in the car and we had overnight bags by the front door, in case we needed to evacuate.
Thankfully, we never lost power in my neighborhood. We were able to watch the news the whole time. I was shocked to see how bad it was for some people in New York and New Jersey. I saw boardwalk rides floating in the ocean, cars floating and people whose homes were just gone. That was so sad and scary.
I did think it was awesome how neighbors were helping each other. It brought people together. I saw men riding around in their boats rescuing people and neighbors bringing food to people.
I learned how important it is to be prepared and to come together as a community to help each other after the storm.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has a great website that teaches you how to get ready for big storms. It also includes how kids should learn emergency preparedness so they are less nervous. Being educated on emergency preparedness is the most important thing.
In conclusion, resilient communities are educated communities. All citizens, adults and children need to know what to do if a disaster strikes. It could mean the difference between life and death.
Honorable Mention: Ryleigh Coffey
John R. Downes Elementary School
Teacher: Sandra Schlapfer
On Saturday, October 27, 2012 my dad was called into work just after we finished our breakfast. My family knew there were warnings for a bad storm so we prepared our house in Delaware so he could leave and join his job as a first responder with the U.S. Coast Guard. The storm started as a Hurricane watch when we first saw it on TV, meaning there was a risk for this storm system to reach our area. It soon turned into a warning, which meant land fall in our area was imminent. We have had these drills in the past, and two important things always come up, which I think are most important. They are to be prepared with supplies and our evacuation plan.
The key to surviving severe weather is being attentive and prepared. Electricity, natural gas, sewer services, and water can go out at any time during severe weather. To get ready, our family had bottled water, canned foods, first aid kits and extra medicine on hand. Our flash lights had fresh batteries so if the power went out, we were ready.
Hurricane Sandy approached very quickly and we had flood and tornado warnings in
New Castle County, DE. It was time to start thinking about our next step. Since we weren't too close to the shore, we didn't have to evacuate but had a plan just in case. Evacuations are an important step in saving lives. Most people that are living near or on the shoreline should leave first. The safest place from any hurricane is as far inland as possible. For my family, evacuation plans are already in place because of military orders. Most coastal states have Hurricane Evacuation routes, which help minimize traffic and chaos while leaving certain areas.
I have never personally been affected by a major Hurricane or storm, but I would like to think I am prepared if it ever does happen. To build a resilient community, a hurricane plan must be in place including supplies and maybe even family supply kits issued to each family only to be used in emergency situations. If each family is issued a government kit paid for by the state, this may reduce the mayhem of fast moving storms. Evacuation drills should be done every year around hurricane season with as much community support as possible. I think we have all learned a lot from the past few major storms especially to be prepared for the unexpected.
Honorable Mention: Morgan Gracey
St. Ann School
Teacher: Marilyn Vallejo
Hurricane Sandy affected many people on the east coast last year. This hurricane damaged many businesses, homes, schools, beaches and factories. It is very important to learn from Sandy that we must prepare our area to be able to live through another hurricane, like this one, without a lot of damage. Since the storm, people have been working very hard to rebuild their lives and communities.
Planning a safe evacuation route and creating an emergency kit that your whole family can use are extremely important. Remember to check your battery supply and make sure that generators are in good condition. By practicing your evacuation plan with your family, they will know what to do in an emergency. My family lives on the water and we did not have to evacuate, but we did have a plan to leave if it was necessary.
If you decide to stay at home, you should make sure to listen to the weather service for updates on the storm watches/warnings for your area. If the wind becomes strong, stay away from windows and doors, even if they are closed. Anyone who lives on the coastline, offshore island, or near a river should leave as soon as possible. If you are staying at a shelter pack necessary items only.
After the storm, always wait until the area is declared safe by your local government. Stay on firm, dry ground. Even though the rain may have stopped, the tides may change and areas could still flood. Please stay away from any rushing water. If you did not stay at your house, when you get home, use a flashlight to inspect damage. Do not go near any electrical lines or boxes. If you aren't sure if it is safe to go in, ask a neighbor or family member to help you.
Coastal storms can cause severe erosion of our beaches and shorelines. Dunes protect the beaches and provide barriers from flooding and waves. When dunes are destroyed in storms, new sand must be brought in to rebuild the dunes to prepare for the next weather episode.
By creating an awareness of the damage that can be done by a hurricane, you will avoid injury and keep your families safe. We cannot control the weather, but we definitely can control ourselves and protect ourselves from these terrible weather events.
Honorable Mention: Fiona Pando
Worcester Preparatory School
Teacher: Alayne Shockely
I was born in 2002 and have been raised in Coastal Delaware. I have read that 2010, 2011 and 2012 were among the most active Atlantic Hurricane seasons in the past 100 years!
Before I was born, when my older sister was a baby, my parents and sister were evacuated by boat from their home due to storm. This raised our awareness of what needed to be done in order to be prepared for future storms. I believe that in order to "Build Resilient Communities," we need to prepare. I think that the preparation should be done in our homes, schools and in the community.
In our home, we have a plan and supplies that are always ready. Some supplies you should have: water for at least 3 days, non-perishable foods, medicine, candles, flashlights and charged cell phones. Some people have generators, but they need close supervision. My family also knows where the shelters are located. We know the evacuation routes. You should be sure your car's gas tank is full and a bag packed in case of evacuation. If officials give you advice, you should definitely follow it to be safe. When there is a possibility of flooding, you should unplug all the electrical devices to avoid a fire in case the water gets into your house. Fire is a dangerous hazard in the case of a storm.
Now that I have talked about preparing for storms, I would like to discuss the problems that happen after the storm. The decreasing sand level is a huge problem in our community. These beaches have to be replenished after big storms. If the erosion is significant, it will affect the ecosystem of the area. The beach economies are affected by tourism. Every time there is a big storm, the roads leading to the Indian River Bridge flood. I know this because my bus drives over that bridge very day. I imagine it has been costly and requires a lot work of to repair these roads and beaches. They are planting beach grass to help keep sand in place.
In summary, "Building Resilient Communities" will continue to be a challenge for the Delaware Coastal Communities. I truly believe that through awareness, education and community involvement we can be better prepared and preserve our beautiful beaches!