It’s not enough to just say you’ll be ready. National Hurricane Center Director Dr. Rick Knabb says you need a plan. And it’s easy.
“If you're overwhelmed by the thought of preparing, I would recommend starting with the evacuation question", said Knabb. "Find out today if you live in an evacuation zone”.
In the past 50 years, nine out of ten fatalities from tropical storms or hurricanes in the U.S. have been caused by water, not wind.
“People don't really fear the water enough", said Knabb. "I think that's why we're losing most of the lives historically in water. But, these are preventable fatalities.”
Millions of Floridians live near the water, but not everyone is at risk. The first step is to find out whether you live in a storm surge evacuation zone.
Next, determine your safe place and how you will get there. Safe places don’t have to be far away. And if you live inland, find a friend or family member you can provide shelter for.
And finally, make sure your plan is in writing, shared with family and friends, and that you leave early. Longtime St. Johns County resident David Smith remembers how crucial that was during Hurricane Frances in 2004.
“When we left that one time to go to Orlando to get to the airplane, we left at 9 o’clock in the morning", Smith said. "Neighbors on either side left by 10 o’clock and they were stuck.”
And if your plan is to wait until a storm is coming, David’s wife Marian recalls why that might not be a good idea.
"You sort of get panicky when it's starting to happen, but if you have prepared ahead of time, you just say 'okay, I'm going to get through it’", said Smith.
You can find out if you live in an area threatened by water by visiting your county’s emergency management website or FloridaDisaster.org.