Have a plan for hurricane season

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- “It's no secret that MacDill and the Tampa Bay area are not too far above sea-level, and some say we are long overdue to feel the effects of a major hurricane strike,” said Leighton Reid, an emergency management technician assigned to the 6th Civil Engineering Squadron.

With the month of June just around the corner, this is the time to ensure that members of MacDill are ready to take on hurricane season, which begins June 1 and lasts through November 30.

“It's critically important for us in the Tampa Bay region to know our hurricane evacuation zone designation, and to have both a primary and alternate way out due to the limited number of evacuation routes we have here on the coast,” said Reid. “Being informed prior to any storm is key.”

The emergency management team and the National Weather Service partners recommend the following courses of action as we enter into the hurricane season:

1. Determine your risk. Find out what types of wind and water hazards could happen where you live.
2. Know your storm surge evacuation zone and develop an evacuation plan. Know where to go if you are ordered to evacuate and have a plan for where you can stay (SAFE HOUSE/ SAFE HAVEN). If you are not in an area that is advised to evacuate, and you decide to stay in your home, plan to have adequate supplies in case you lose power or water for several days, and are unable to leave due to flooding or blocked roads.
3. Assemble a disaster kit. This kit should include medicines, a flashlight, batteries, cash, first-aid supplies and copies of critical information should you need to evacuate.
4. Secure an insurance check-up. Call your insurance company or agent, and ask for an insurance check-up to make sure you have the appropriate amount of coverage.
5. If you plan to ride out the storm in your home, make sure it is in good repair and up to local hurricane building code standards. Have plywood, steel or aluminum panels to cover up the windows and doors. Remember, your garage door is the most vulnerable part of the home, so it must be able to withstand the winds.
6. Check on your neighbor/wingman.
7. Complete your written hurricane plan. Know where you will ride out the storm and get your supplies now.

As some locals might be aware, it doesn’t take a hurricane to cause severe flooding in Tampa.

According to the National Hurricane Center, storm surge is often the greatest threat to life and property from a hurricane along the coast. A storm surge is an abnormal rise of water generated by a storm that is above the predicted astronomical tides.

“Being prepared ahead of time is key to living on the west coast of Florida,” said Reid. “Having a kit to last you and your family for a week; thinking ahead and creating a family emergency plan that includes what to do if we must evacuate; staying informed as severe weather approaches, and finally keeping your family, friends and unit aware of your location and situation are ways to stay prepared.”

Storm surge evacuation maps can be found online at http://tbrpc.org, http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/nationalsurge/, or through the hurricane information link on the home page at http://www.macdill.af.mil/Hurricane-Information.