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EDITORIAL: Reminder to ready for hurricane season may save lives

By Staff | Jun 1, 2011

When islanders flipped their calendars this week from May to June, many of them probably did so with a bit of trepidation. That’s because we have now entered a new hurricane season, which will last until the end of November — although a hurricane can strike at any time of the year. We are, however, most susceptible to these tropical storms during the warmer summer and fall months.

Dr. William Gray and Phil Klotzbach, the nation’s leading hurricane forecasters from Colorado State University’s Department of Atmospheric Science, announced earlier this spring that they are predicting nine hurricanes this season, of which five are estimated to become major hurricanes.

Despite the fact that Sanibel has not experienced the brunt of Mother Nature’s wrath anywhere close to equaling Hurricane Charley nearly seven years ago, the islands have been under several hurricane or tropical storm watches/warnings in almost every season since: Katrina and Wilma in 2005, Ernesto in 2006, Barry in 2007 as well as Fay, Gustav and Ike in 2008.

During the past two seasons, tropical storm activity in Southwest Florida has been fairly low, with only Tropical Storm Bonnie a blip on our radar last July. However, as experts have again reminded us, and we will do the same: you can never prepare too early — or too much — for a hurricane.

In preparation for Hurricane Season 2011, we would urge our readers to take a couple of moments to go over a “checklist” of things to do right away, if they haven’t done so already:

• Have an evacuation plan ready — Know where you’re going to go in case an evacuation order is issued. Back in 2004, more than 95 percent of Sanibel’s residents were evacuated prior to Charley’s arrival. If you have a pet, check to see which hotels and/or shelters accept them.

• Make an emergency disaster kit — Stock up on bottled water (one gallon per day, per person is recommended), non-perishable ready-to-eat foods, medications, personal hygiene items, blankets and towels, a first aid kit, flashlights and radios with fresh batteries, an analog (land-line) telephone, credit cards and important documents you’ll need after a storm.

• Place hurricane hang tags in your vehicles — Emergency personnel may not allow your vehicle to return to the island following an evacuation without one. For questions regarding hurricane passes or emergency preparedness, contact Emergency Management Specialist Stephanie Dowd of the Sanibel Police Department at 472-3111.

For additional information, visit our website — www.captivasanibel.com — and click on “Hurricane Guide 2011.”

We hope that all islanders will make the necessary preparations now for hurricane season and pray that this reminder will save lives should we see any major storms. The old adage “Better safe than sorry” certainly applies here.

— Reporter editorial