If a major storm heads toward Longboat Key, fire-rescue response will stop when winds hit 46 mph. The north-Key fire station will relocate to State Road 70 and I-75, and the south fire station will move to
Sarasota Memorial Hospital. Longboat Key Deputy Fire Chief Paul Dezzi told the attendees of the Hurricane Preparation and Safety Seminar Thursday, June 10, at Longboat Island Chapel, about the town’s hurricane plans. He made one thing clear: “It’s very important that when (officials) tell you you need to evacuate that you evacuate the island,” Dezzi said.
Dezzi and Longboat Key Police Chief Al Hogle spoke at the seminar, which drew nearly 50 people.
Dezzi described his experiences during Hurricane Charley in 2004. At the time, he was assistant chief of operations at the Sarasota County Fire Department and was responsible for Siesta Key when the storm threatened the area. Dezzi said that when emergency response to the island was suspended, calls began to flood into the Emergency Operations Center within an hour from people who wanted help getting off of the key.
Hogle said that the town tries to evacuate people from the island 24 hours in advance of a storm. Individuals with special needs should evacuate 48 hours in advance. When the hurricane is over, the town manager, public-works director and police chief will inspect the island, and the fire-rescue and police departments will return for a snapshot of the island, followed by a search-and-rescue mission. If a large structure were to collapse, additional first responders would be brought in as provided for by mutual aid agreements with other departments.
According to Hogle, the town’s goal is to allow residents to return to Longboat Key as quickly as possible.
Residents can receive a pass to get back on the island from re-entry points, located at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall and Ed Smith Stadium, in Sarasota County, and State College of Florida (formerly Manatee Community College), in Manatee County, if they bring proof of residency, such as a driver’s license or utilities bill.
Hogle said that in case of an emergency, residents can get up-to-date information at the town’s website, longboatkey.org.
SURVIVING A STORM
If a hurricane or major storm threatens Longboat Key, you need to be prepared. Here is a checklist, available on the town’s website, longboatkey.org, with details about what to do if a storm is headed to the island.
• Fill up your tank. Gas pumps won’t work without electricity.
• Put outdoor objects, including lawn furniture, tools and toys, indoors.
• Install storm shutters or cover all doors with plywood.
• Prepare boats as appropriate.
• Turn refrigerators and freezers to the highest settings.
• Turn off small appliances that aren’t needed.
• Turn off LP tanks.
• Call an out-of-town friend or relative to let them know your plans.
• Fill sinks and bathtubs with water.
• Get an extra supply of cash.
• Prepare insurance information.