Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Hurricane Season

Preparing for disasters is something most of us think about, but few of us do. Individuals in Florida have a unique situation in regards to hurricane preparedness: we haven't had a major hurricane hit the state in over 10 years, and a large percentage of us residents are new in that time and have never experienced a hurricane - ever.

So we have a population that is largely unprepared, coupled with a disaster response system that hasn't been real-life tested for a major hurricane in a decade or more. But our disaster responders are constantly preparing, drilling, and modifying plans to reflect the changes around them.

Our own St. Johns County emergency managers are well prepared with established evacuation shelters and routes, redundant communications systems, and a system to activate evacuations well in advance of a major storm. They are also ready to respond to the situation on the ground after a hurricane hits, and have systems in place to help the community recover.

Of course, we have to do our part: know where the closest evacuation shelters are located, have plenty of emergency supplies on hand including enough food and water. The National Hurricane Center has a good site to help individuals and families prepare, including a checklist of supplies we should have on hand. Let's face it, you don't want to be at the store at the last minute fighting for supplies with others. Be prepared in advance and you can concentrate on getting your home ready for the storm.

American Red Cross also has a great app (Hurricane by American Red Cross) for mobile phones that can track hurricanes, show you where shelters are open, help notify loved ones that you're safe, and more. It's free and well worth downloading. It's available for iOS and Android.

We are well into hurricane season in August and it will last through the end of November, so let's do our part for ourselves and our loved ones and take steps to be prepared.