Emma Burke, digital fulfillment specialist at the Observer Media Group, frantically called her wedding planner, Janice Blackmon, on Monday, worried about the status of her upcoming nuptials to her fiancé, Patrick Jolly. The ceremony and reception are slated to take place Thursday, at the Powel Crosley Estate. Outside.
The Sarasota-Manatee region is expected to begin to feel effects of Tropical Storm Nicole by Wednesday afternoon.
Blackmon reassured Burke, “Everything should be fine unless there is a state of emergency.”
Five minutes after they got off the phone, Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency for Sarasota and 33 other counties.
Devastated, Burke’s colleagues tried to cheer her up with positive reinforcement. “Rain on your wedding day is good luck,” said one co-worker, who added, “A tropical storm means you’ll be married forever!”
Another reminded her that she is in good hands with her caterer, Philip Mancini, of Michael’s On East, who recently served on the front lines of Hurricane Ian prepping thousands of meals for World Central Kitchen. Mancini assured Burke that the tent to be placed on the Crosley bayfront lawn could withstand up to 40 mph winds … but he wouldn’t recommend being inside the tent at that time. Mancini also informed her that he had gone down to Fort Myers that day to acquire a generator to make sure that the band could play.
While the Sarasota-Manatee region for the most part got lucky in Hurricane Ian, and rain may be lucky on a wedding day, relying on luck isn’t the best strategy when it comes to storms. Shortly after Hurricane Ian, Roger Pettingell, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Realty and a Bird Key resident, shared that he thought an article about the things we learned from Ian would be a great idea. It is a great idea, and who knew it would be relevant so soon?
Whether you’re preparing for Tropical Storm Nicole or the next storm further away, Pettingell shares with us his lessons learned:
- Gas: Fill up your car with gas and charge your electric vehicles up to 100%. And fill up multiple gas cans for generators.
- Generators: If you have a generator, make sure you test it before the storm. Don’t wait to turn it on for the first time after the storm is over.
- Water: It’s not about getting thirsty and having water bottles on hand to drink. You’re really talking about what happens when your water gets shut off. You should fill up your bathtubs and all the vessels you have when your water is running, so you have it on hand when your water is turned off.
- Cars: When storm surge is a threat, a critical lesson we learned is to park your cars on a high level of a parking garage. If you’re out of town, make sure your keys are somewhere someone can access them. Pettingell offered to move cars for many of his clients, but their house checkers had evacuated with the car keys.
- Hotel: Pre-book a hotel in Evacuation Zone C or higher. During Ian, Pettingell said he booked a downtown hotel in Zone B that eventually got evacuated. Also, look for a hotel that has been built in the past five years, has a generator and is up to hurricane codes.
- Power: Pettingell left his front door light on before evacuating Bird Key during Ian. He used his Ring doorbell app to check and see when his power came back on. The Ring doorbell is battery operated, so put in fresh batteries before you leave.
- Insurance: Check with your insurance agent to make sure you’re adequately insured. Don’t wait until the last minute to do a walk around with an iPhone to video what the contents of your home are if you do have to make an insurance claim. Create a family Dropbox with all of your important documents scanned so you can access them on your phone so you’re not running around looking for insurance papers.
- Landscaping: Now that we know how our landscaping and trees can break and blow down, prepare your landscaping ahead of time and pre-trim at the beginning of hurricane season. Don’t count on your fences being able to stand any significant winds.
- Evacuation plan: When making your evacuation plan, keep in mind that the cone of uncertainty is just that, it’s uncertain. You may want to have a couple of places available to evacuate to, for example, out in east in Sarasota, farther east in Orlando, or even up and out of the state.
So while we prepare for another storm, we will leave you with this message from a meme circulating on social media — “Currently in Florida: Exhausted and confused as we listen to the Mariah Carey Christmas album, prep our Thanksgiving menu and wonder if we need to go out and buy hurricane snacks while trying to keep our eyes open for an extra hour.”
Stay safe, don’t rely on luck and best wishes to the future Mr. and Mrs. Jolly.