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Preparing For Hurricane Season With Lessons From 2016

Jun 2, 2017
Originally published on June 1, 2017 11:21 am

Owning a resturant on the water was a dream come true for Peter Stefani. For 26 years, Stefani had watched the waves rise and fall just outside his businesses.

Still, the Nebraska native hardly had an idea of what the tide could do until Hurricane Hermine hit Cedar Key.

"There were 5 or 6 foot waves in here. Pretty much wrecked our lives. It was pretty devastating", said Stefani.

Stefani and his wife Gina are co-owners of the Island Room Resturant. Though typically a destination for weddings and fancy dinners, the venue was reduced to structural beams after the storm. Everything else was either gone or ruined.

Yet even after more than one hundred thousand in lost revenue, Stefani said he wouldn't change anything.

"There's nothing you can do to stop that", Stefani said. "There's nothing you can do to stop the water."

While Stefani and others along the coast may not be able to stop the water, officials say there are things they can do to better prepare.

"Part of that is starting off with an emergency communications family plan. You need to get that, need to get emergency supplies together, and need to know your evacuation routes", said Gracia Szczech, Region 4 Diretcor of the Federal Emergency Management Agency or FEMA.

Szcech says everyone needs to prepare for hurricanes.

As FEMA works to get people prepared ahead of large storms, the National Hurricane Center is working on fully implementing a new alert system for when the storms hit. Storm Surge Specialist Jamie Rhome syas that after two years of trial periods, one new feature is storm surge watches and warnings.

Rhome hopes this warnings, along with four other changes to hurricane season forecasts, will help save lives during the storms. Still, preparation remains critical, and CEO of Flash.org, Leslie Chapman agrees.

This weekend, Florida will forego $4.5 million in sales tax revenue by allowing residents to purchase disaster preparedness items can purchase tax free. Batteries, flashlights, portable generators costing $750 or less are on the list of items that will be exempt from Florida’s 6% sales tax.

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