In 2017, the United States experienced several major hurricanes. In Texas, Hurricane Harvey caused considerable damage in Houston. In Florida, Hurricane Irma ripped through Naples and Marco Island. The Florida Keys and Puerto Rico both experienced major damage during both storms.
Tornadoes can accompany a hurricane, and they are typically spawned within the heavy rain bands away from the eye of the storm, according to the National Oceanic andAtmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Hurricane Season in the UF Community
Weather experts in the University of Florida community monitor tropical activity throughout hurricane season. There are a series of actions taken when deciding whether the university should close.
As most UF students and faculty know, there’s a banner on the UF homepage with storm information (www.ufl.edu). This banner is updated daily, and it alerts the UF community of what they should do to prepare and what they should expect over the course of the storm. This is also how UF relays information about class cancellations and school closures.
“As the storm impacts become closer to Gainesville, then the timelines become closer,” said Kenneth Allen, director of emergency management at UF. “The university increases the communication out to the campus community.”
Students should consider whether they plan to stay on campus, go home to their families or go to an emergency shelter.
Uncertainty looms whenever there’s a hurricane approaching. The path always seems to shift, and no one knows where it will go.
Chaos ensues when every Floridian is trying to buy hurricane supplies at the same time, and gas stations often run out of fuel, as with Hurricane Irma. While we can never be certain what kind of hurricane season there will be or the exact path of a hurricane, there are certain things Floridians can do now to prepare for the 2018 season. Here are some helpful tips for hurricane preparation.
FEMA Flood Insurance
Ashley Finnegan, vice president of marketing at Maven Construction, said the most important thing for Floridians to do is invest in FEMA flood insurance.
“A lot of people don’t understand that it’s separate and different than regular homeowners or renters insurance,” Finnegan said. “Even if they don’t live in a high-risk flood zone, it’s really important to have flood insurance because we saw many situations this year where homes flooded and the owners didn’t have the proper coverage.”
There’s typically a 30-day waiting period to acquire flood insurance, which means people really shouldn’t wait until the last minute to decide on flood insurance.
According to NOAA, flooding from heavy rain is the second-leading cause of fatalities from landfalling tropical cyclones. The leading cause is storm surge, which is generated by the rise of water from the storms’ winds.
Clearing Weak or Dead Tree Limbs
Tree damage was one of the most common issues after Hurricane Irma. Loose branches can pose a danger during high winds, and they can become projectiles in a major storm. It’s also important to research how each area disposes of loose branches; different cities and counties have different procedures for getting rid of yard debris.
“There are tree service companies that will come do a check on the health of trees,” Finnegan said. “So, it’s not something where you really have to wait (until the) last minute.”
Hurricane winds can destroy buildings and manufactured homes, according to NOAA. Signs, roofing material and other items left outside could become projectiles during a hurricane.
Securing and Clearing out Gutters
Proper maintenance of your home is essential. Tropical storms and hurricanes typically bring heavy rain, so providing clear drainage will help eliminate misdirected flooding, Finnegan said. Securing loose gutters and downspouts will prevent them from being ripped out of place
Document with Photos and Videos
Before a major storm, it’s important to take photos and videos of both the interior and exterior of your home. In the event of damage, insurance companies want to see what was there prior to the storm, and the documentation will help when filing a claim.
Disaster Supply Kits
Most people are aware of disaster supply kits, but it’s always a good idea to make sure you have one. Bottled water, nonperishable food, batteries and flashlights are some of the things to have in the event of a power outage. Hurricane kits should be packed for a minimum of three days’ worth of supplies.
Disaster checklists are available through the Hurricane Survival Guide provided by UF. The guide, which can be found online at emergency.ufl.edu, gives an itemized list of necessities for Gainesville residents on and off campus.
In the university community, disaster supply kits are a big part of hurricane preparedness. Allen said the campus mantra is: get a plan, get a kit and be informed.
“We want everybody to be thinking about what they’re doing for a hurricane well in advance,” Allen said.
Gradually building a stockpile is a good idea, Allen added. If people know they regularly eat peanut butter, it may be beneficial to buy an extra jar here and there. That way, you’ve built up your supply of nonperishables and you won’t be in such a crunch to buy supplies when the storm is on its way.
“I would encourage people to have refillable water containers that they can keep year-round,” Allen said. “They can keep those full, and they can rotate the water in and out. They can use the water for plants or other things, but they always have a stockpile of water, and they’re not pressed to get bottled water immediately.”
– Non-perishable food & water (enough to last at least 3 days)
– Personal hygiene items and sanitation items
– Flashlights and extra batteries
– Emergency cash
– First aid kit
– Battery operated radio (again, have extra batteries)
– Waterproof container with cash and important documents
– Manual can opener
– Lighter or matches
– Books, magazines, games for recreation
– Special needs items: pet supplies and baby supplies if applicable
– Cooler and ice packs
– A plan for evacuation and for if family members are separated