Buchanan Encourages Residents to Prepare for Above-Active Hurricane Season
SARASOTA, Fla – As hurricane season officially begins today, Congressman Vern Buchanan urged Suncoast residents to take steps to prepare for and remain safe during the coronavirus pandemic.
“As Florida continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic, we must remember that planning and preparation will look different for hurricane season this year,” Buchanan said. “I’m pleased to see that Florida officials are incorporating necessary safety and social distancing practices into their evacuation and shelter guidelines in order to help prevent the spread of this deadly virus.”
According to the Florida Division of Emergency Management, they are looking into protocols for shelters that range from separating people based on temperature checks and non-congregated sheltering in hotels. Residents who arrive at a shelter may be given a kit with personal protective equipment. They are also adding facemasks to the state’s stockpile of storm supplies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending small shelters of fewer than 50 people in their new storm guidelines.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecast this season includes an above-normal number of storms. NOAA is predicting 13 to 19 named storms, which will result in 3 to 6 major hurricanes, defined as a category 3, 4 or 5 storm with winds of 111 mph or higher. Hurricane season spans six months, from June 1 through Nov. 30.
For basic preparation for a hurricane, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends people know their local hurricane evacuation routes, make a family emergency communication plan, purchase a portable generator, secure loose rain gutters and downspouts, reinforce roofs, windows and doors and remove any damaged trees and limbs before rainfall.
“Early preparation for hurricane season is critical to avoiding injury and potential property damage,” Buchanan said. “Floridians should get necessary supplies in anticipation of a possible hurricane. We can act ahead of time to safeguard our families, homes and businesses.”
Qualifying items related to disaster preparedness in Florida, such as flashlights and portable generators, will be tax-free until this Thursday.
Many Suncoast residents will remember Hurricane Charley, which hit in August 2004 and left four people dead in neighboring Charlotte County. The Category 4 storm ripped across Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda with winds up to 150 mph and destroyed more than 11,000 homes. Hurricane Charley left behind an estimated $15 billion in losses according to FEMA.
“Smart planning and preparation helps save lives and protect property,” Buchanan continued. “There is no downside in preparing for the worst. Suncoast residents cannot afford to be complacent about these dangerous storms.”
The Congressman asked that Floridians and constituents visit the Hurricane Preparedness section on his website at Buchanan.house.gov/resources/hurricanes. Visitors to the site will find helpful information on how to prepare themselves and their property for a hurricane, what to do in the event of an evacuation, a list of recommended items to include in an emergency supply kit and links to state and federal resources.
Buchanan also advised Floridians to check their flood insurance coverage and develop a contingency plan for their homes and businesses as early as possible.
In the event that a hurricane is expected to hit the district, people should contact local emergency managers for information regarding emergency shelters and storm advisories.
- Florida Division of Emergency Management
- Manatee County Emergency Management
- Sarasota County Emergency Management
- Hillsborough County Emergency Management
- The American Red Cross of Southwest Florida