LEE COUNTY, Fla. — Local emergency centers are gearing up for Tropical Storm Elsa. Fox 4’s Rachel Loyd spoke with Emergency Management Leader Lee Mayfield. He was Lee County’s director of Public Safety and emergency management when Hurricane Irma hit in 2017. He shared where you can turn in the event of the storm coming to Southwest Florida.
Rachel: Hurricane Elsa was downgraded from a hurricane back to a tropical storm, but now is not the time for people to let their guards down. What should people be doing this weekend to prepare for the storm that could come?
Lee: Of course there are a lot of variables when it comes to precisely where those impacts may be in the state of Florida. So, we’re encouraging everyone to really stay in touch with their local news outlets - kind of keep an ear to the ground on any changing developments - especially listen to those words of wisdom from officials.
Rachel: Absolutely. And we know recently, just this past year, a lot of people have moved to the state of Florida. For those folks who have not experienced a tropical storm, for people who have not experienced a hurricane, what would be your advice to them?
Lee: If you’re a new resident to the state of Florida, there are a lot of great resources these days. There’s a lot of good sources of information. So, visit your local county emergency management website, where you can get all sorts of tips and tricks on how to prepare. What you should have in your hurricane kit. Finding your evacuation zone is a really good recommendation.
Rachel: I know you played a really big role when Lee County, when Southwest Florida was hit by Hurricane Irma several years ago. What would you say were some of the big lessons learned there, and some things people forgot or weren’t necessarily prepared for when that storm came?
Lee: The State of Florida has some of the best emergency managers in the country, and that’s true for Southwest Florida area. Great decision makers - people that spend their careers planning for these types of events. Preparedness starts at the individual and family level. Everyone has a role. That goes down to the individual as best as we can be prepared. People prepared have better outcomes in these scenarios. So, for the most part, people are prepared. I think they understand the risks. We do a very good job in Florida pushing that message out as best we can. I fully expect people will notice this storm and prepare accordingly.
In addition to finding your evacuation zone on your county’s emergency management site, you can also go to floridadisaster.org/knowyourzone.