As Manatee County’s Emergency Management Chief, I urge all Manatee County residents to make sure their families are prepared for hurricane season. Hurricane season is quickly approaching and it runs from June 1 to Nov. 30, peaking in August through October. Hurricanes are dangerous and can cause major damage because of storm surge, wind damage, and flooding. The 2021 Hurricane Season is expected to be an above-average season, according to the Colorado State University Tropical Meteorology Project Team, calling for 17 named storms, eight hurricanes, and four major hurricanes. Regardless of the forecast, knowing the essentials of how to prepare for a hurricane can be a lifesaver. The best time to prepare for an emergency is always before the threat is imminent.
Planning for an emergency will help you and your loved ones stay safe and connected if a disaster occurs. The three most important things to know before hurricane season are 1) know your home’s evacuation zone; 2) know where to go if you need to evacuate, and; 3) what your disaster plan is. Manatee County residents can find out this crucial information by visiting mymanatee.org/information or by calling 311.
First, have a disaster plan ready. Write out the steps and share them with your family and friends. You should include steps that focus on a pre-storm plan and a post-storm plan. Remember to print important documents (e.g., emergency phone numbers, insurance information) before a hurricane strikes. Power outages during and after a hurricane can prevent you from accessing information online when you most need it. You should also prepare a supply kit lasting longer than seven days and having supplies such as hand sanitizer, face masks, and disinfectant wipes to prevent germs from spreading.
To know when to evacuate for hurricane surge flooding, you should know your evacuation zone. You can easily look up your home’s evacuation zone by searching for your address at mymanatee.org/information. If you live in a zone that has been ordered to evacuate, you should get out. I advise all residents and visitors to plan where you will shelter and have travel routes mapped ahead of time.
As Manatee County continues to follow CDC guidelines, we currently have reduced capacity in our shelters, so it is even more important to have alternative plans to shelter somewhere else. Please keep in mind that evacuating and seeking a shelter will look very different in the COVID-19 era. Local shelters should be a last resort if you need to evacuate. If you find yourself in an area that’s under evacuation orders, it’s best to stay with a friend or family member in an area outside of the evacuation area. Hotels out of the evacuation area are another option. Shelters provide a safe structure with limited resources, no beds, no cots, no privacy, no blankets, and no showers.
In addition, Manatee County offers a special needs registry, which is designed to assist residents of Manatee County who will require transportation or sheltering assistance when the citizen is notified to evacuate their residence because of a storm. Residents can also register online or by calling 311.
I encourage all residents to sign up for ‘Alert Manatee’ to receive emergency notifications emergency updates such as evacuation notices, weather warnings and hazardous traffic or road conditions. You can opt to receive notifications by phone call, text, or email. Additionally, stay tuned to the radio and TV for weather updates, emergency instructions, or even direct evacuation orders. Visit the County’s website at www.mymanatee.org/ManateeReady for readiness tips and be sure to follow our social media accounts for news straight from County officials. Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/manateecounty.fl and Twitter @MCGPublicSafety.
Remember to have a disaster plan, know when to and where to evacuate, and consider volunteering when the need arises. “It only takes one”.
Manatee County Emergency Management Chief Steve Litschauer