In southwest florida we were lucky in 2020 only having to deal with hurricane Eta moving along our coastline. What happens if our luck runs out this year. What do you need to do if we end up in the path of a storm?
"Be prepared now...Once you are in that cone you start asking questions...Looking up on the internet what that means...Center right over you at some poing 2/3 of the time," Ken Graham, Director of the National Hurricane Center said.
First step, determine the risk and what types of hazards that could happen where you live like storm surge because Southwest Florida is extremely vulnerable.
“It’s the area I’m most concerned about. Not only because the storm surge risk and its ability to rush inland 20, 30, 40 miles but because its been so long, so long since people have experience the full wrath of a hurricane,” said Jamie Rhome, storm surge expert from the National Hurricane Center.
And it’s the storm surge that is the most dangerous
“You look at tropical systems and the leading cause of death is storm surge. It’s number one,” said Graham.
The next step, have an evacuation plan in place especially you if live in an evacuation zone.
“Yes wind is dangerous. Wind can be deadly with roofs and home and trees absolutely, but historically its the water. If your in the path of that hurricane and see the forecast is going to bring storm surge flooding, you gotta run, you gotta get out. That’s why we evacuate. You gotta get out of the way," added Graham.
As you're developing your plan this year, know where your local shelters are or where you would seek shelter during a storm. Maybe it’s inland with friends or family. Remember the goal is to evacuate tens of miles to safety not hundreds so you can quickly return home.
Next up is assembling those supplies. Make sure to have plenty of non-perishable food, water, medicine to last each person in your family a minimum of three days and the key is to start now.
"That's a perfect time right now to start collecting some of those supplies so that you do have things on hand and you don't have to venture out and compete with everyone else that might be trying to get those supplies at the same time," said Sandra Tapfumaneyi, Lee County Emergency Management.
“The risk is so great when you live in a place like Southwest Florida you can afford to take a gamble and say oh the storm is going to miss me this time. If it doesn’t it could cost you your life, the life of your family, your property, you possessions, you have to be ready," said Michael Brennen, Senior Hurricane Specialist, from the National Hurricane Center.
If you are thinking about riding out a storm, just remember this.
“You my get through it but doing this for over 27 years it’s no fun afterwards. That's a strong message because just because you get through it...not having electricity or trying to find and get supplies it’s uncomfortably hot. It’s brutally hot in the days following a hurricane. It’s not just getting through the storm it’s the aftermath and impacts weeks afterwards”