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My View: Irene should be a wake-up call for us

  • By
  • | 4:00 a.m. August 31, 2011
Hurricane Irene's projected path on Aug. 21.
Hurricane Irene's projected path on Aug. 21.
  • Longboat Key
  • Opinion
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By this time, we’ve all witnessed the devastation caused by Hurricane Irene, which made landfall rated as a Category 1 storm. Irene’s impacts include, but aren’t limited to:

• at least 38 storm-related deaths
• power outages for more than 5 million people
• more than $7 billion estimated in property damage
• massive transportation system shutdowns
• several airports closed with more than 11,000 cancelled flights
• storm surge reported in 10 coastal states
• rivers exceeding flood stages in 12 states
• more than 2,500 people stranded on Hatteras Island due to five breaches in the causeway
• more than 27,000 people hosted in Red Cross shelters on Sunday night
• roadways and bridges to many coastal communities were destroyed making it impossible for affected residents to reach their homes to assess and begin repair to damaged property

All this destruction from a Category 1 storm!

The most severe weather was on the east side of the storm, which stayed out in the Atlantic for much of the time. This same storm along our coast would place us in a more hazardous zone, because the northeast side of the storm typically results in more damaging impacts.

Our community should not only count our blessings but take heed that we are now entering the most active phase of the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season.

Hurricane Irene also highlights the necessity for residents and local businesses to have a disaster plan, prepare your supply kit and be ready to evacuate when local officials issue voluntary or mandatory evacuation orders.

Each year, local officials urge residents and business owners to re-evaluate their disaster plans to ensure preparedness if, and when, threatening weather events require immediate action. To assist in this effort, the town of Longboat Key website ( has a hurricane preparedness page that contains important information to assist you in preparing your home, family (including pets) and/or business disaster plans. Your plan is developed based on the types of hazards likely to impact your area and should include where you’ll go if ordered to evacuate, what documentation you need and what supplies should be in your disaster supply kit.

When severe weather threatens our area, specific storm information concerning Longboat Key is posted directly to the town’s website and replaced as new information becomes available.

In addition, residents are encouraged to register phone contact numbers with CodeRed Emergency Notification System so you will be directly informed of of evacuation orders or other important emergency communications from local officials. The link for CodeRed is located on the front page of the town’s website.

As part of Manatee and Sarasota counties’ disaster preparation, the respective Office of Emergency Management maintains a “People with Special Needs” (PSN) registration program. This ensures that transportation and adequate facilities are available for those residents who have medical needs requiring specialized care when evacuations occur.

Residents are encouraged to take the time to make preparations now.

Have you ever heard of someone who wished they were less prepared when a storm threatens their safety or property? Visit to get started.

Have a plan, be prepared and stay safe!


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