Long before a storm approaches, before the hurricane season begins, you need to have a Family Disaster Plan. Make sure you have everything you need to be able to put together a Disaster Supply Kit on very short notice. ALL stores will be overcrowded as a storm approaches and can be expected to run short of vital supplies.
Have all the materials you need on hand before a storm is imminent. You may not be able to get what you need if you wait. It is important to make sure that your home is reinforced at its most vulnerable places to prevent wind from entering. You need to protect your home by shoring it up at its weak points.
In addition you need to decide early about getting flood insurance. Your homeowners insurance will not cover flood damage! If you are in a flood plain, flood insurance is a must. But EVERY house is at risk of being flooded. How great is your risk? Visit this FEMA Flood Risk Scenario web page to learn more about your situation.
|Know where you will go||
Evacuation may be necessary but you may be able to "shelter in place". That will depend on a great many factors. Some of these factors are: the construction of your home, the location of your home, and the severity of the storm.
Flagler County Evacuation zones have been determined by careful study of storm surge. Note that ALL mobile and manufactured homes are considered to be unsafe in hurricane conditions. People living in these structures need to evacuate.
If you need to evacuate you should evacuate locally. Once an evacuation order is issued, roads will be extremely crowded and you run the risk of being trapped in your vehicle in the storm.
If you can "shelter in place," that is your best alternative. But you must make sure that your "shelter" is prepared for the storm and that you have everything you need both to weather the storm and to provide for your needs for some time afterwards. You may be without power for an extended period. Roads to your area may be blocked and impassible. It may be some time until emergency relief centers are up and running.
Flagler County Emergency Shelters will only be opened as needed. It will be important to know whether a designated shelter has been opened before going there. Emergency shelters provide for only the most basic needs, probably a cot, water, and basic food. Staying in a shelter is not a very enjoyable alternative but is provided for those for whom there is no alternative.
|If you need to evacuate||
Make sure that you CAN evacuate. Fill your car with fuel as soon as possible when you hear that a storm is approaching.
Make sure you have your medicine with you. Take baby food and diapers if you will need them. Take your own toiletries, one flashlight per person, spare batteries, sleeping bags, pillows and blankets, identification, and important papers.
Here is a convenient check list to help you plan.
|How can I stay informed?||
Without doubt the best, most reliable way to know what is happening in your area during a storm is NOAA Weather Alert Radio, which can be programmed to receive alerts for only your county if it is equiped with SAME (Specific Area Message Encoding) capability. These radios are inexpensive, manufactured by several companies and are widely available at stores that sell electronics as well as some others, including PUBLIX Supermarkets.
Weather information is, of course, reported almost continuously on local radio and television stations when a storm is approaching. However, these stations have a wide coverage area and may not provide up to date information about your area when you most want it. That is particularly true of Flagler County, which is at the fringe of both the Orlando and Jacksonville viewing areas.
Some local sources of information are:
Flagler Skywarn web site,
Flagler County Emergency Services web site,
Cable television subscribers can tune into local government information channels.
But if the electricity goes out, you will need a battery powered radio to get information. NOAA Weather Alert Radios all have battery backup and are, therefore, a reliable source of continuing information about imminent hazards. [NOTE: You do not want to rely on your car's radio during the storm. A vehicle is the last place you want to be during a tropical storm event. Remember that it is very likely that a Tropical Storm will produce tornadoes.]
|After the storm||
Be very, very careful! There may be live electrical wires laying on the ground. There may be large trees or branches that might fall unexpectedly. There may be animals in the vicinity, such as alligators and snakes, you would not normally encounter. Do not climb over or through debris. Do not walk through standing water. Remember, if you are injured, emergency workers may not be able to reach you right away.
Never attempt to go into an area that has been evacuated until authorities have announced that the area can be reentered. There may be hazards in the area that have not yet been cleared and there may be dangerous conditions, such as flooding, that could occur in the storm's aftermath.
Plan to provide for yourself for the next two or three days. Depending on damage in your area, it could take considerable time before disaster assistance, such as emergency food, water and ice, is available.
If you are able to provide for yourself, remember that some of your neighbors may not be as fortunate and that their needs may need to be addressed before yours.
|For further information||
There are many, many places you can get more information about Tropical Storms. Many radio, television, and newspapers provide special supplements.
Flagler County Emergency Services provides specific information is online about:
[NOTE: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader, a free download for a variety of operating systems.]
Local volunteers, trained by meteorologists from the National Weather Service Jacksonville office, serve as storm spotters during severe weather outbreaks. Anyone can be a storm spotter and classes are regularly offered in our county, as well as in other locations in the region. Click this link for information about the National Weather Service Jacksonville Skywarn Program.
Please visit the Flagler Skywarn web page for information on becoming a spotter, information about Skywarn radio communications groups, and links to many weather related sites of significance in our area.