With June 1 the official start of hurricane season, residents advised to be prepared

COVID-19 precautions continue to be a factor in county planning

Image from the Hurricane Preparedness webpages on the county website.

With the official start of hurricane season just days away, Sarasota County Emergency Management staff is encouraging members of the community to take precautions for hazardous weather while keeping COVID-19 precautions in mind.

Hurricane season officially is June 1 through Nov. 30, a county news release notes, “but preparing now ensures you will be ready in the event of a storm. Ensure disaster supply kits are complete and plans are in place. Knowing the risk, getting prepared, and staying informed are vital steps everyone can take to get ready for hurricane season,” the release adds.

“Don’t wait until a storm is approaching gather supplies or make your plans,” said Sarasota County Emergency Management Chief Ed McCrane in the release. “Being prepared is the best way to ensure your family is ready for any disaster,” he added. 

COVID-19: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “guidelines and precautions related to COVID-19 should continue to be utilized in preparations,” the release points out. “Include cloth face masks, hand sanitizer and disinfectant in disaster kits. Consider an evacuation plan that allows for staying with friends or family and remember to socially distance if possible. Hurricane evacuation centers should be a last resort. Sarasota County evacuation centers will continue to use Florida Department of Health and CDC guidelines for screening, use of masks, social distancing and increased sanitation. Being fully vaccinated provides an additional layer of protection for evacuees who seek shelter in hurricane evacuation centers.”

Additional information from Emergency Management Chief McCrane can be found here.

Be Prepared: “Take action now by having an evacuation plan for your family — including pets — along with a communications plan and a disaster kit,” the release continues. “A disaster kit should have supplies to last each person and pet up to 10 days,” it points out. Each kit “should include a cloth mask and hand sanitizer, important paperwork and medications,” the release adds.

“Resources and support may not be available within the first 72 hours of a storm, depending on its severity,” the release notes.  

Know Your Risk: Because of recent updates to storm surge maps for the area, evacuation levels may have changed, the release continues. Residents are encouraged to check and memorize their hurricane evacuation levels on the maps available online at scgov.net/beprepared.

“According to Sarasota County Emergency Management officials, you may be at risk for storm surge even if you can’t see water from your home,” the release says. “The updated storm surge maps are available online by visiting scgov.net/beprepared.” 

Stay Informed: “Sign up for Alert Sarasota County or for the Sarasota County emergency newsletter to stay informed in the event of an emergency. Sign up for both by visiting the Emergency Services page on scgov.net.”

“In addition,” the release adds, “monitor local media and Sarasota County Facebook and Twitter accounts for hurricane watches and warnings in your area. Follow directions of local officials, and have a battery-operated or hand-crank radio available in the event the power goes out.”

The state’s disaster preparedness sales tax holiday will be conducted May 28 through June 6, the release notes. A full list of qualifying items may be found at floridarevenue.com/disasterprep

Sarasota County residents with qualifying medical needs are encouraged to complete the Medically Dependent online application, the release points out. Online applications no longer will be accepted when a storm’s impact is expected within 60 hours, the release stresses.

Those who need transportation to an evacuation center also are encouraged to fill out the online form. “The registration process will cease when landfall is expected within 60 hours,” the release says.

For more information on how you and your family can be prepared, visit https://www.scgov.net/government/emergency-services/hurricane-preparedness or call the county Contact Center at 941-861-5000.