The start of the 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season began this week. Even though that signified the official start of this year’s hurricane season, two named storms have already occurred this year - Hurricane Alex in January and, more recently, Tropical Storm Bonnie this past weekend. This demonstrates that tropical weather systems occur outside of the established June 1-Nov. 30 time frame. The forecasts for this year’s hurricane season predict an average year, but remember it does not take an active season to make it a devastating one. Hurricane Andrew (1992) and Hurricane Katrina (2005) both occurred during hurricane seasons that were predicted to be slow to average.
One of the largest factors to play into the survival devastating weather events is to be prepared. Preparation should start well in advance of any storm or storm season. It is vital to have a plan of action that has been practiced. In many cases, especially in the event of a tropical storm or hurricane, it is important to prepare yourself and your family to be on your own for the first 72 hours. In the first 72 hours after impact from a storm, there might be damage to roadways, trees and debris blocking roads and extensive power outages. Many of these obstacles will not only cause delays to access to you and your family, but they create hazards that should be avoided. Be prepared and have a plan that consists of components that address the times before, during and after a tropical storm or hurricane.
Before the storm hits you should have developed and know your plan. Gather supplies, create a communications plan and learn your primary and secondary evacuation routes. Secure your home before you evacuate; secure outdoor objects that may become flying debris and secure doors and windows.
During the storm, listen for updates from local authorities. Utilize battery-operated radios so you still have a way to gather information and instructions if the power does go out. Continue by turning of the utilities to your home, including electricity and propane tanks. Finally, have an ample supply of water for you, your family and your pets, if they will be with you during the storm. A good idea is to fill up the bathtub and large containers with water.
After the storm has passed, initiate your communications plan to contact friends and family to check on them and to let them know you are safe. Inspect your home for damage. Safety is the primary concern, so if your home appears damaged, have it inspected by a professional building inspector or structural engineer before entering. Take a lot of photographs of any damage that may have occurred. Avoid using candles for lighting as they are a fire hazard; use battery-operated flashlights instead.
These are some helpful hints to help you and your family prepare in the event that a tropical storm or hurricane impacts the City of Gainesville or surrounding area. The website, www.safeGNV.org, officially launched this week to assist in the efforts of event awareness and emergency preparedness. The interactive website provides a means of connectivity and supplies a wealth of information related to preparation for before, during and after a tropical storm or hurricane. Additionally, the website allows for a central point of social media threads. You can follow safeGNV on social media with #safeGNV. Live Twitter feeds allow citizens to get connected and communicate with the City of Gainesville, as well its partner agencies. Current weather, traffic and sheltering information are also readily available. safeGNV offers the citizens of Gainesville a way to stay connected, informed and, most importantly, safe.