The beginning of hurricane season—June 1—is very nearly upon us. It’s been more than ten years since northwest Florida was on the receiving end of a destructive hurricane. However, we’ve been no strangers to devastating floods, tornadoes, and even an ice storm over the past few years. No matter what natural disaster lurks around the next corner, there are steps every single resident can take to reduce the impact storms have on your family and property.
The week of May 15-21 has been designated “Hurricane Preparedness Week,” and there will be lots of information in the media about the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season, including preparation checklists and mock hurricane drills. As part of the effort led by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), we will be sending out daily reminders and tips over Extension social media outlets during Hurricane Preparedness Week to remind readers of practical tips for preparing.
The main thrust of the message is fivefold: Know your evacuation zone http://flash.org/hurricane-season/ ; have an insurance checkup http://www.flash.org/homeownersinsuranceguide/ ; build a disaster supply kit http://www.redcross.org/get-help/prepare-for-emergencies/be-red-cross-ready/get-a-kit ; strengthen your home http://www.rebuildnwf.org/ ; and help your neighbor http://www.fema.gov/community-emergency-response-teams .
In Escambia and Santa Rosa counties, residents can contact Rebuild Northwest Florida http://www.rebuildnwf.org/ to learn how to mitigate windstorm damage at a quarter of the actual cost. Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training is available in many communities, which builds teams of neighborhood leaders to help with immediate response before professional emergency personnel can arrive.
It is easy to be complacent when we haven’t had a big hurricane in a while. However, it’s important—especially for newcomers to the area—to be educated about your options and make a plan in case it’s ever needed.
If you’re interested in learning more, check out NOAA’s information at http://www.nws.noaa.gov/com/weatherreadynation/hurricane_preparedness.html or the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) website http://hurricanestrong.org