- June 20, 2014
The fallout from Tropical Storm Colin on Longboat Key should prompt residents to step up their preparedness during hurricane season. At least that’s what state and local emergency management officials hope — and timing may be the most important factor in planning.
“You may not have as much time as you think you do to prepare before a storm,” said National Weather Service Warning Coordination Meteorologist Dan Noah during the Longboat Key Chamber of Commerce’s 14th annual Disaster Preparedness Seminar. More than 130 residents, business leaders and town officials watched as Noah cycled through pictures go Galveston, Texas, which faced major flooding from a storm surge before Hurricane Ike even made landfall.
Noah said when planning an evacuation, it’s important to stay with friends and family 10s of miles away rather than hundreds of miles from their residence, so an evacuee can avoid clogged interstates. He also advised that nearly half of all deaths from hurricanes are the result of storm surge — something north-end residents should certainly know considering Tropical Storm Colin’s impact on those neighborhoods.
“Turn around, don’t drown,” said Manatee County Emergency Management Chief Don Hermey.
Emergency management officials have warned of “Hurricane Amnesia” because it has been nearly a decade since the area faced a major storm.
“When I took this job 11 years ago they said, ‘Ed, don’t worry, there’s Indian spirits who protect this area’,” said Sarasota County Emergency Management Chief Ed McCrane. “I pray that those indians continue to do that, but we’ve got to be ready just in case one day they forget.”
While making sure you have an evacuation plan, evacuating well before the skies turn gray and making sure your home is up to code are all aspects of disaster preparedness, Tasha Carter, director of the division of consumer services under Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, stressed preparing for insurance claims as equally important.
She suggested keeping a waterproof case filled with one’s homeowner insurance policy, copies of insurance cards, financial account information, pictures of each room in the house and inventory of items, a will and cash. Also, residents should pay bills early, as communication systems may go down during a storm.
“Financial preparedness is as equally as important as overall disaster preparedness plans,” Carter said. “Luckily, it’s easy to be financially prepared.”