By Emerson James
Get a plan. That is the message that Florida Division of Emergency Management is trying to get out to
Florida as the beginning of hurricane season draws ever closer. Hurricane Season begins on June 1 st and
officials are warning residents to start planning early.
Officials from Colorado State University are calling for the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season to be less
active than 2016; however, Hurricane season is anything but predictable. Last year, Hurricane Alex
surprised forecasters by forming in early January while Tropical Storm Bonnie made landfall in May,
both storms outside the norm for traditional hurricane season.
Hurricane Hermine ended Florida’s decade long hurricane drought by making landfall near Apalachicola
last year and officials want residents to be prepared for the upcoming season. Hurricanes can have far
reaching effects beyond wind and rain and can cause inland flooding due to storm surges as well as
producing tornadoes. The best way to prepare is to have a plan in place to know whether you would
stay during the storm or evacuate. For those who feel that evacuating is the best option, especially if
you are in a low lying area, mobile home, or in an evacuation zone, getting on the road early enough is
Evacuation highways can quickly become backed up as a hurricane or tropical storm approaches. Make
sure you have plenty of gas, as many stations may be closed on the roads. If you plan on evacuating, it is
important to make a plan for pets, as well, since many shelters do not accept pets.
Perhaps one of the best tools in your plan is to have a disaster supply kit ready. These can be helpful for
wildfires, power outages and other disasters as well as hurricanes. A disaster supply kit will need to have
enough food and water to last for at least 3 days as well as important documents, a NOAA weather
radio, important medicines, flashlights, batteries, list of emergency contacts as well as books or
magazines. In the event of an emergency, these items can help until emergency crews can arrive. The
FEMA app is also available on IPhone and Android and can give up to date information on weather
alerts, disaster resources and more. For a comprehensive list of what supplies to have, visit
If you plan on waiting out the storm, make sure you plan ahead by bringing in loose objects from the
yard, boarding up windows and having enough supplies to last for several days. The most deceptive part
of a hurricane is easily the “eye,” a calm center of the storm that lures people into believing it may be
over. During the eye of the storm, the winds will calm and the sun may even come out for a brief time;
be alert, however, as this will change quickly.
Hurricanes are a way of life in Florida and keeping a cool head is important whether you are evacuating
or riding it out. Getting a plan while the sun is shining is the most important part in making sure you are
ready for when the winds begin to change.