Hurricane season started June 1 and officials are sending out their annual message: it's imperative to know what to do before, during, and after a storm.
Before a storm is even on the radar, people need to have a plan, according to Bay County Emergency Management Division Chief Joby Smith.
“Listen to your local officials when they ask you to evacuate,” Smith said. “You need to have a plan. We preach to get a plan. Go to floridadisaster.org to get a plan.”
Smith said don’t wait until the first advisory comes out to make preparations. Know in advance what your evacuation zone is in case you’re ordered to leave.
When looking at the projection of a hurricane in days leading up to the storm, don’t focus only on the direct line.
“Now, year in and year out, we tell people don’t focus on the black line, and don’t even focus on the cone because tropical storm force and hurricane force winds can extend well outside the cone and the impacts can extend well outside that cone,” Jacksonville meteorologist Scott Cordero said.
One of the ways to prepare for a big storm is by getting flood insurance. Damage from flooding can be financially devastating. However, you should apply for flood insurance well before a storm is on the radar as the waiting period is 30 days.
“Two inches of flood water in your house causes on average $23,000 worth of damage, because of flooring and tile, and then it goes up from there because of electrical. Where it rains, it can flood and we want everyone to have flood insurance,” said Leslie Chapham-Henderson, CEO of the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes.
Chapham-Henderson adds it’s important to stock up on supplies for after a storm. Assume the power will be out in local businesses, so stock up on cash in case there are no credit card readers. Also be sure to have plenty of gasoline, clean drinking water, medicine, non-perishable food, and pet food.
Director of the National Hurricane Center Ken Graham echoes the importance of stocking up on medications.
“The number one reason of indirect fatalities after a hurricane is medical," Graham said." It’s cardiac arrest. So think about the medical conditions after a hurricane, make sure you have your medicines. And don’t shy (from) having enough to last for weeks just in case."
After a storm is over, check your home for damage. Danger could be lurking in the attic, as water may be pooled there. Lastly, listen for updates from local authorities about when it's safe to leave the house and drive.