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Preparedness

 

The 2011 hurricane season begins June 1 and ends November 30. The most common months for hurricanes to occur are August and September. There have been 7 major hurricanes that have passed through Marion County since 2002. Forecasters project that 12-15 named storms and 2-5 major hurricanes could form in the Atlantic this year. Make sure that you are prepared!

Make the following preparations for hurricane season:

  • Identify currently available local shelters in case of emergency evacuation.
  • Stock bottled water (enough for one gallon per person, per day for two weeks), non-perishable foods and frozen gel packs in a cooler.
  • Keep reserve supplies to take care of special medical or dietary needs. Also, keep a two week supply of prescription medicines.
  • Register individuals with special needs by contacting MCSO Emergency Management at (352) 369-8100.
  • Plan alternate cooking methods such as propane and charcoal grills.
  • Check insurance policies for adequate coverage and maintain an inventory of possessions (serial numbers, date of purchase, price) to assist in settling insurance claims.
  • Store important papers such as insurance, health, birth certificates, deeds and titles in a safe place. Keep identification and a list of important numbers safe and handy.
  • Gather emergency materials (see list below).

 

Emergency materials

 

  • Plywood and plastic sheeting
  • Rope, duct tape, tarps, and cardboard
  • Bleach and cleaning supplies
  • First-aid kit
  • Insect repellent / citronella candles
  • Water purification tablets
  • Flashlights with extra batteries
  • Portable radio with extra batteries
  • Matches or lighters packed in waterproof containers
  • Emergency camping / cooking equipment
  • Containers for sewage (5 gallon buckets with covers)
  • Heavy duty trash bags
  • Heavy work gloves
  • Mops, rakes and brooms
  • Gas cans and 5 gallon water jugs
  • Claw hammer, nails, and furring strips
  • Handsaws, utility knives, and staple guns
  • Ladder
  • Blankets and/or sleeping bags
  • Personal care items and toilet paper
  • Cash or Traveler’s checks
  • Extra clothing for one week, rain gear and shoes – no sandals
  • Lightweight folding chairs / cots
  • Quiet games or favorite toys for the children
  • Pet carriers, pet food and water
  • Baby supplies if necessary

 

Securing Your Home

Adequately protect your windows in order to prevent dangerous shards of glass from flying through your house. Purchase either 3/8 inch or 1/2 inch plywood and 1/4 inch machine screw anchors (6 per sheet of plywood). Cut the plywood to fit each window and sliding glass door, and then mark the panel to identify the window it will fit. To mount the panel, sink anchors into the exterior walls around each window and drill holes into the plywood (the holes should match the position of the anchors on the wall). Match the holes to the anchors and tighten the screws through the plywood into the anchors. The wood should be flush against the wall and firmly in place. Another option is shatter-resistant window film, which is a permanent.

To protect your residence, be sure to anchor all loose items outside (such as garbage cans or lawn chairs) because they could become missiles in the wind. Fuel and gas lines should be turned off at the tank.

To keep your mobile home safe, electrical wires and sewage and water lines inside mobile homes should be disconnected. A sufficient number of proper tie-downs should be used to securely anchor mobile homes. Solid skirting increases the threat of wind damage, instead use lattice or grillwork to reduce the chance of the wind lifting the mobile home off the ground because of less wind resistance. Warning: These precautions reduce the chance of damage but do not guarantee complete security. When there is a hurricane threat, mobile home dwellers are the first to be evacuated.

When protecting your pool, don’t drain it. Leave it full and add some extra chlorine. If possible, cover the pool tightly. If your pool pump could be susceptible to flooding, disconnect it and store it in a safe place. Otherwise, wrap the motor in plastic.

 

Plan for Your Business

For your business, develop a written hurricane plan including specific policies and procedures to protect employees and patrons. Let your employees know about the plan and where it is located. Practice it once before hurricane season begins.

Protect Your Pets

Most hurricane shelters do not accept pets. The only pet friendly shelter in Marion County is Vanguard High School. You can board your pet in a kennel in a safe location. You should keep paperwork documenting your pet’s immunizations because many kennels will not accept pets that are behind on their shots. Bring your pet in a carrier with sufficient food.

If you don’t go to a public shelter, bring your pet with you in a carrying cage. Bring along a familiar toy, a leash and any medication. Have current identification for each pet in case of separation.

It is best to leave exotic pets, such as snakes and parrots, with friends or relatives outside the threatened region.

 

When a hurricane watch is issued (hurricane conditions are possible within the next 36 hours)

 

  • Monitor radio, TV or hurricane hotline for updates in the storm’s progression
  • Fuel and service family vehicles
  • Turn your refrigerator to its coldest setting
  • Check your emergency materials
  • Secure your residence
  • Check that you have completed all preparations

 

When a hurricane warning is issued (sustained hurricane force winds of 74+ mph are expected within 24 hours)

 

  • Closely monitor radio and TV weather reports
  • Move your supplies to your safe room
  • Follow instructions issued by local officials and evacuate immediately if ordered to do so

 

About Evacuation and Shelters

Evacuate mobile homes or manufactured homes. If you have special medical needs, you need to evacuate to a special needs shelter. Notify neighbors and family members outside of warned area about evacuation plans.

Hurricane shelters will be available for people who have no other place to go. Do not leave your home until officials announce that the shelter is open. Information about shelters open in your area will be available through newspapers, television, radio, and Emergency Management. Locations can change quickly, so stay informed.

It is best to bring your own chairs, bedding, and food with you to shelters. Do not bring pets (unless specified pet-friendly), weapons, alcohol or illegal drugs.

Important: If you are a registered sex offender or sexual predator, you are subject to arrest if you enter any shelter. We have space available at the Marion County Jail that will be used to shelter the above people.

 

During the Storm: How to Find a Place to Take Refuge in Your Home

Stay away from windows and exterior doors. The strongest wall in a two-story home is near the stairwell. In a one-story home the strongest room is usually the bathroom or walk-in closet near the center of the house. Stock the safe place with a supply of food, water, first-aid kit, flashlight, a mattress and battery-powered radio. Only a few hours will be spent in your safe place.

Do not go outside if the weather suddenly becomes calm, this is the storm’s eye. It is usually followed by the most vicious part of the hurricane. If your roof begins to leak or rain blows in around your doors and windows, do not go outside to repair damage during the storm.

 

Safety Tips for after the Hurricane:

Watch out for downed power lines that are still live. Don’t strike matches until you are sure no gas is leaking. Look out for broken glass, nails and other sharp debris. Snakes and other dangerous animals could be on the loose. Do not use water until the local water utility, through the media, says it is safe to do so. Use only bottled or disinfected water. If your home is damaged, be aware that it still may collapse. Be on the lookout for possible looters. Avoid driving: roads may be littered with debris and traffic lights may not be working.

Living without Electricity

If you find yourself without power, call the utility company only if your house is the only one in your area that is out of service.

If your refrigerated food is still cool, you should be able to use it for about 48 hours, but avoid opening the refrigerator door frequently.

Cook on gas/charcoal grill or stove outdoors only. Canned heat can be used indoors (but be sure that there are no gas leaks in your home before striking a match for any reason).

Turn off lights and appliances if your power service is interrupted in order to help prevent surges and overloads when power is restored. Do not disconnect electrical equipment during a storm.

Avoid candles and lanterns because of fire risk. Use flashlights indoors.

Generator Safety:

NEVER CONNECT the generator to your home’s wiring system as it could electrocute line repair personnel. Ground the generator per the manufacturer’s instructions. Turn the power off at the main circuit breaker of your electrical panel before you connect any appliances. Keep the power off the entire time the generator is in operation. Only operate the generator outside.

Water Use Guidelines

Boil water if you are instructed to do so by local authorities. Use only bottled or disinfected water for drinking and cooking until the public water supplies have been declared safe. Properly stored water should be safe for up to six months.

Use water stored in the bathtub, from the pool or from the tap to flush the toilet. Don’t drink or cook with water from the pool. Don’t drink water from wells, especially in areas of sewage contamination. Use disinfected water for brushing teeth. Tap water is fine for showering. Don’t wash dishes in tap water unless you rinse them in extra-chlorinated water (15 drops of chlorine bleach per quart). Don’t let your pets drink tap water. Contact lens wearers should use safe water to wash hands before handling lenses.

Disinfecting Water

 

  • Boiling: Boil at rolling boil for 10 minutes, let cool, add a pinch of salt for taste and then pour the water back and forth between clean containers to reduce flat taste.
  • Chlorination: Use unscented liquid chloride bleach, add 8 drops to each gallon of water and then stir and let stand for 30 minutes. If water does not have slight chlorine odor, repeat the dosage and let stand for 15 minutes.
  • Chlorine or Iodine Tablets: Follow directions on the package, but if directions are not given use one tablet for each quart of water. Make sure the tablet dissolves and mix thoroughly. Let stand for 30 minutes.
  • Liquid Iodine: Add 5 drops of 2 percent iodine to each quart of clear water, for cloudy water, add 10 drops of 2 percent iodine to each quart of water. Mix thoroughly and let stand for 30 minutes.

 

Health Hazards

Frequent flushing of toilets may overload an already weakened sewer system. Find portable toilet until you get “all clear” sign. In urban settings, human waste left outside contains bacteria that can taint water supplies and pose health risks. Garbage pick-up will be slow, so double-bag garbage and keep it in covered containers. Take precautions to avoid heat exhaustion and heatstroke.

Cleaning Up

Some insurance companies cover the cost of professional cleanup if damage is large. If you do it yourself, take “before” photos or videos. Pump water and shovel mud out of house as soon as possible. Open windows to let house dry. Scrub the floors with a stiff brush and mild soap and water. Unplug electric appliances, and be sure all moisture is gone before attempting to plug them back in. Never open an appliance to dry it inside.

If you have property damage, call your insurance agent immediately. If your area is a federal disaster area you may be eligible for financial assistance from FEMA. Begin to make temporary repairs to prevent further damage and keep all receipts. Do not attempt to make permanent repairs until an adjuster has inspected it. If you move somewhere else temporarily, let your insurer know where you can be reached. Many adjusters can issue checks on the spot to cover temporary housing.

Chain Saw Safety:

Keep spectators 30 feet away. Never operate chain saw from a ladder or tree. Begin and continue cutting at full throttle. Cut one log at a time. Keep the chain properly lubricated (fill the oil tank each time you refuel the tank and clean the cooling system after every other refueling).  Don’t use the saw in bad weather. Stop the engine before setting down the saw. Don’t walk with the saw running.

 

Hurricane Terms

Tropical Disturbance: an area of thunderstorms in the Tropics that maintains its identity for 24+ hours

Tropical Depression: cyclone is which maximum sustained surface wind is 38 mph or less

Tropical Storm: cyclone in which maximum sustained surface wind ranges from 39 to 79 mph

Tropical Storm Watch: issued for a coastal area when there is a threat of tropical storm conditions within 36 hours

Tropical Storm Warning: alert for tropical storm conditions within 24 hours

Hurricane: tropical cyclone in which the maximum sustained surface wind is 74+ mph

Hurricane Watch: issued for a coastal area when there is a threat of hurricane conditions within 36 hours

Hurricane Warning: issued when hurricane conditions are expected within 24 hours

Flash Flood Watch: flood conditions possible — be alert

Flash Flood Warning: a flash flood has been reported or is likely to happen soon

 

Hurricane Categories

 

Category Wind Speed Storm Surge Damage
1 (Weak) 74-95 mph 4-5 feet Coastal fllooding. Minimal damage to vegetation, samll boats and unanchored mobile homes.
2 (Moderate) 96-110 mph 6-8 feet Low-lying coastal areas may flood. Mobile homes, piers, boats, roofs and windows may incur moderate damage
3 (Strong) 111-130 mph 9-12 feet Serious flooding along the coast and low-lying routes inland 3 to 5 hours before the eye of the hurricane arrives. Trees may be uprooted, small buildings damaged and unprotected mobile homes destroyed.
4 (Very Strong) 131-155 mph 13-18 feet Low-lying routes inland can incur flooding 3-5 hours before the eye of the hurricane arrives. Critical damage to mobile homes, roofs, boats, structures, trees and power lines.
5 (Devastating 155+ mph 18+ feet Flooding may occur in areas less than 15 feet above sea level within 500 yards of the shore and low-lying escape routes may be flooded by rising water 3-5 hours before the eye arrives. Complete roof failure on residential and industrial buildings as well as destruction of smaller buildings, boats and mobile homes.

 

Marion County Sheriff’s Office

Division of Emergency Management

P.O. Box 1987

Ocala, FL 34478-1987

Phone: 352-369-8100

Fax: 352-369-8101