State Emergency Management Director urges citizens to GET A PLAN!
In April, Governor Crist gave me the distinct honor of appointing me as the Director of the Division of Emergency Management. While the vast majority of my time since that appointment and the time of the State Emergency Response Team (SERT) has been involved with preparing for the potential future impacts that may be caused by the Deepwater Horizon incident, it is time to shift some of that focus to the beginning of the 2010 Atlantic Hurricane Season.
The weather experts tell us that we can expect a busy hurricane season. The current forecast calls for an above average year for the formation of hurricanes. While we respect those that forecast these numbers, it is important that we remind our citizens and visitors that it only takes one storm to cause loss of lives and devastating property damage.
Hurricane Andrew was a devastating Category 5 hurricane that struck our state in 1992. That was a year in which the forecast called for a below average year for the formation of hurricanes. So again, while the higher numbers bring to light the start of the hurricane season, we have to remain focused on individual responsibility and being prepared for the one storm that may impact the state and your community.
Recently released survey results indicate that many coastal residents are much less prepared than they should be and in some cases go to the extreme of believing there is almost no risk to themselves or their families due to a land-falling hurricane.
I am reminded that over 25 years ago, an elderly gentleman lived at the base of a beautiful mountain and had a breathtaking view. He had lived there for most of his life and yet knew that one day all of this could be threatened. This was his life right up to the point that Mount St. Helens erupted and eventually took his home and his life. He felt that evacuating when the local officials told him to would be to abandon everything he had built. We also live in a paradise, with beautiful beaches and spectacular views. What we have to understand is that there are times that we must heed local officials and evacuate. With the decision to evacuate comes the need to have a plan: where are you going, where will you stay, what route will you travel and what must you take with you (medicines, clothing, food, water, insurance policies, etc).
To those citizens and visitors that are asked to evacuate we recommend traveling tens of miles versus hundreds of miles. In most cases, moving out of the immediate area where storm surge — the water pushed in front of the hurricane-force winds — will save lives. So traveling to friends’ or families’ homes out of these danger areas is a critical decision. So GET A PLAN! is more than just talk. It requires an action. Action by you and your family to understand that living in paradise comes with a price and that price is preparedness.
Visit www.FloridaDisaster.org today and get started developing your family plan.