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Sarasota County prepares for hurricane season

Sarasota Herald-Tribune logo Sarasota Herald-Tribune 5/21/2022 Max Rego, Sarasota Herald-Tribune
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With hurricane season beginning June 1, Sarasota County officials are prepared for what experts say will be a busy few months. 

At a press conference Thursday morning at the Sarasota County Emergency Operations Center, Sarasota Emergency Management Chief Ed McCrane outlined the county’s plans in the event of an impending storm, while emphasizing that families need to take the necessary steps in anticipation of a hurricane.

Sarasota Emergency Management Chief Ed McCrane at a 10 a.m. press conference Thursday in advance of hurricane season. © Herald-Tribune/Max Rego Sarasota Emergency Management Chief Ed McCrane at a 10 a.m. press conference Thursday in advance of hurricane season.

“The basic preparedness messages still continue, that we want people to put together a disaster supply kit, have a plan on what they’re going to do, know their evacuation levels, whether they need to evacuate or not, and to stay informed,” McCrane said.

McCrane detailed an array of preparations, but here are four things county residents should keep in mind as hurricane season approaches.

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Sarasota County residents should prepare for hurricanes ahead of time

McCrane referenced supply chain issues and shortages, indicating that there is an increased need for residents to get ready for hurricane season in advance. Stocking up on supplies early is a must. 

“Hurricane season happens every year, and you don’t want to wait until the last minute to prepare,” McCrane said.

Additionally, he mentioned that May 28-June 10 marks a tax savings holiday, during which “people will be able to save on purchasing those supplies.”

Hurricane supplies should last a week

McCrane indicated that seven days’ worth of resources is the minimum families should have on hand as we enter hurricane season.

“We used to say, ‘the first 72 are on you,’ but with these shortages and these issues, we ask people to provide themselves at least one week of emergency supplies in that disaster supply kit.”

In terms of the contents of these supply kits, McCrane said that full meals are not the only option. Snacks, such as protein and cereal bars, will also last. He suggested that a gallon of water per person, per day, is enough. 

Additionally, if you have children, McCrane said to be sure that you include items that help them stay entertained during the storm – such as stuffed animals. 

Prepare your home for hurricane season

Keeping windows closed, installing shutters or impact glass and having a designated safe room are among what residents should prioritize with regards to their homes.

“We want them to take a look at their homes, and make sure that their home is a safe location to stay in,” McCrane said.

He also recommended that residents get a wind mitigation inspection of their homes, to determine weak spots. 

In the event that their home is not deemed a safe place to stay during a storm, evacuation centers are available as a last resort. Twelve sites, all of which are pet friendly, are located throughout the county. 

McCrane noted that one of the biggest mistakes people make is not evacuating when it is suggested, referencing damage to Monroe County, where roughly a quarter of residents stayed, after Hurricane Irma. 

“It’s a very devastating thing to go through,” McCrane said. “And then afterwards, you can’t get out even if you wanted to, and then there’s no services available.”

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Keep your gas tank full during hurricane season

Under normal, storm-free circumstances, loading up on gas when your tank is nearly empty is acceptable. But when a hurricane is approaching, you may want to refill earlier than usual.

“Obviously you want to make sure you have a full tank of fuel in your vehicle, and you can take State Road 72, Clark Road…. There are East/West roads that you can take,” McCrane said. 

Sarasota County hurricane preparations

As for the county, McCrane assured that emergency management officials are ready. Multiple systems have already been detected in the West Caribbean, so hurricane season might get off to its typically early start. 

“It only takes one, so regardless of what’s out we’re going to prepare the same way for every storm ... that looks like it could be a potential threat,” McCrane said.

Residents should stay prepared themselves, however. That will limit the damage and ensure that the community, as a whole, stays safe. 

“One of the most important principles of emergency management is individual preparedness,” McCrane said.  “If every resident, if every individual in the community, had a kit, had a plan, was prepared and was staying informed, an impact wouldn’t be as severe.”

This article originally appeared on Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Sarasota County prepares for hurricane season

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