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Captivans attend program, ready for hurricane season

By Staff | Mar 16, 2009

Last Friday, Captivans attended a special hurricane preparedness program at the Captiva Civic Association meeting room, listening to speakers explain how to be ready in the event of a storm and how to be prepared should an evacuation be necessary.

The program was organized by members of the Captiva Hurricane Response and Preparation Committee in partnership with the Captiva Island Fire Control District, Lee County Emergency Operations Center, Lee County Sheriff’s Office and the Lee County Library System.

The first speaker of the day was WINK chief meteorologist Jim Farrell, who gave a brief overview of the science and structure of hurricanes and what to expect during the 2009 storm season.

“This year, one of the more famous long-range forecasting teams – Dr. William Gray and his partner Phil Klotzbach – are once again predicting an above-average season,” said Farrell. “We wouldn’t be surprised if we had above average tropical activity for the next 10 years or so.”

Terry Kelley of Lee County Emergency Management was next on the schedule, discussing the duties of emergency management and how they can help you.

“Every county in the United States has to have an emergency management agency. With Lee County, we have a good group of people that work there year round because we can’t just think about hurricanes,” Kelley said, including freshwater flooding, fires in dry season, lightening and water spouts as only some of the items that Lee County Emergency Management is always looking out for.

According to Kelley, it was thanks to Lee County Emergency Management that Periwinkle Way was cleared in just three days after Hurricane Charley.

“We want you to be safe and come back to a beautiful island. Hopefully we won’t have any storms, but we’re here to support you,” Kelley concluded.

Terry Cerullo of the Florida Department of Finance also addressed the group about the importance of preparing yourself financially for a storm, including building your own homeowner’s tool kit of important documents.

“Whatever is important to you in your financial life needs to be documented and copied and saved somewhere so you’ll have them after the hurricane passes and you’re in the recovery process,” Cerullo said, listing everything from home and auto insurance, your last banking statement, medical information, cash, at least one credit card and photos documenting the pre-storm state of your home as items that you should keep in your tool kit.

Doris Holzheimer of the Captiva Hurricane Preparation and Response Committee then informed the audience as to the mission and accomplishments of the committee and what they do to keep Captiva storm-ready.

“It isn’t a question of if we get a hurricane, but when we get a hurricane. It’s not a thing that any of us want, but it’s just the reality of living in what most of the time is paradise,” Holzheimer said.

“It really depends on each of us to be prepared. Every person should have a preparation plan,” she added, noting that the committee’s Web site, www.mycaptiva.info , is constantly being updated and is an excellent source for hurricane and preparative materials.

Holzheimer also listed procuring a hurricane hang tag, sending in a homeowner’s authorization letter and signing up for the update mailing list at the committee’s Web site as essential in being prepared in the event of a storm. All of the information relevant to these preparation steps is available on the Web site.

At the end of the program, Beth Oden signed up residents for the mailing list.

“We also have a display of handouts and we keep them updated. Always stop in and see what kind of information we have,” said Ann Bradley, Captiva Memorial Library’s branch manager and Hurricane Committee member.

Lt. Alan Delameter of the Captiva Island Fire Control District also spoke about the structural safety inspection team

“I’m not going to tell you it’s an easy job and I stress highly that it is dedicated citizens. You’re dedicated to your island and to this community,” Delameter said.

“I encourage you, if you want to do your community a great service, support the SSI team,” said Delameter.

There will be a Structural Safety Inspection (SSI) training on Saturday, March 28 at the Captiva Island Fire Control District. Call 472-9494 for more details.

“I just want to thank Ann and Doris, because they do so much,” said Lt. Joe Poppalardo of the Lee County Sheriff’s Department. “Plan, be prepared. We’ll do as much as we can, but we’re professionals. We get paid to do this. Doris and the rest of the crew should be truly commended because they do it on their own and they volunteer their time and all the SSI team members are volunteers and we really appreciate their help.”

There is more information available on the Hurricane Committee’s Web site, www.MyCaptiva.info , where you can also sign up to be added to the committee’s mailing list.