Hurricane Season Begins Today with Forecast of 4 to 8 Storms
Florida Leads Nation With Most Homes At Risk
WASHINGTON – As hurricane season officially begins with a prediction of at least one major category 3 storm, Congressman Vern Buchanan urged Suncoast residents to take common-sense steps to prepare and remain safe.
“Early preparation for hurricane season is critical to avoiding injury and potential property damage,” Buchanan said. “Although we can’t control the severity of these storms, we can act ahead of time to safeguard our families, homes and businesses.”
The Sunshine State is second only to California for overall risk of natural disasters, with 6.7 million homes listed in the “high or very high” risk categories, according to RealtyTrac, a housing data company. Florida also leads the country with the most homes at risk for hurricanes.
For basic preparation for a hurricane, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends Americans 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.
The hurricane season spans six months, from today through Nov. 30.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecast this season includes four to eight Atlantic Hurricanes. Of those hurricanes, NOAA expects there will be between one and four major hurricanes, defined as a category 3, 4 or 5 storm with winds of 111 mph or higher.
Although the official hurricane season has just begun, serious storms have already made landfall in the U.S. – including Hurricane Alex back in January and Tropical Storm Bonnie this past weekend.
The last major hurricane to make landfall in Florida was Hurricane Wilma – a Category 3 storm – in October 2005, which had 125 mph winds, killed 35 people and caused $20.6 billion in damages across the Sunshine State alone.
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 will help save lives and protect property,” Buchanan said. “There is absolutely no downside in preparing for the worst. The Suncoast can’t afford to be complacent given Mother Nature’s unpredictability.”
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.