Hurricane Season 2023 has officially started! Here is our official Hurricane Season Survival Guide, sponsored by Flag Credit Union!
Checklist of Supplies We are encouraging all of our listeners to put disaster supplies in a waterproof and durable container and keep these essential items in a bucket near an exit door in your home or in your vehicle:
- Hand crank emergency radio
- Manual can opener
- Change of clothing
- Duct tape
- Dust masks for each person
- First aid kit
- Games and toys
- Hand sanitizer
- Keys (home and car)
- Large plastic trash bags
- Local map
- Non-perishable food
- Permanent marker
- Pet supplies
- Photos of family members and pets
- Pocket knife
- Portable phone charger
- Special family needs (diapers, feminine hygiene items, etc.)
- Toilet paper
- Waterproof bag with family documents, including driver’s license, insurance information, out-of-area contact, medical information
Watches & Warnings
Knowing the difference between a watch and a warning can help keep you safe. Whether a watch or warning, listen closely to instructions from local officials using a TV, radio, cell phone or other communication device.
Watch: An announcement that tropical storm conditions (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) are possible within the specified area within 48 hours.
Warning: An announcement that tropical storm conditions (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) are expected within the specified area within 36 hours.
Watch: An announcement that hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are possible somewhere within the specified area. Because hurricane preparedness activities become difficult once winds reach tropical storm force, the hurricane watch is issued 48 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical storm force winds.
Warning: An announcement that hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are expected somewhere within the specified area. Because hurricane preparedness activities become difficult once winds reach tropical storm force, the hurricane warning is issued 36 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical storm force winds.
Watch: Tornadoes are possible in and near the watch area. Be ready to act quickly if a warning is issued or you suspect a tornado is approaching.
Warning: A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Proceed to a safe room immediately.
Watch: A Flood Watch is issued when conditions are favorable for flooding. It does not mean flooding will occur, but it is possible.
Warning: A Flood Warning is issued when flooding is imminent or occurring.
Flash Flood Warning:
A Flash Flood Warning is issued when a flash flood is imminent or occurring. If you are in a flood prone area, move immediately to high ground. A flash flood is a sudden, violent flood that can take minutes or hours to develop.
Not all insurance policies are created equal. Check your policy or talk to your agent to make sure you have sufficient coverage and to determine if any home improvements would qualify for a discount on premiums. Learn more about insurance policies from the Insurance Information Institute at iii.org.
Here are five questions to ask about your policy:
- What is my standard deductible?
- What is my hurricane deductible?
- Do I need flood insurance?
- Do I have enough coverage to replace my home and belongings?
- Do I have loss-of-use coverage for temporary housing expenses?
Most homeowner insurance policies do not cover damage from rising flood waters. If you own a home in a flood zone, your mortgage company will require you to carry a flood policy. Even if you don’t live in a flood zone, consider the additional coverage. Anywhere it rains, it can flood. To learn more about flood protection, visit LeonCountyFL.gov/FloodProtection. Don’t wait until it is too late to buy a flood insurance policy. Typically, there’s a 30-day waiting period before your policy goes into effect.
Here are some important questions for renters to ask landlords when preparing for a hurricane:
- Do I know my rental property’s risk of flooding or storm surge? Do I know my evacuation zone?
- Do I need flood insurance and renter’s insurance to cover damage to my personal property?
- Will my landlord protect the windows in a storm? If not, where would I go during a hurricane?
The Florida Department of Financial Services’ toll-free Insurance Consumer Helpline is available year-round to assist Florida’s insurance consumers. Insurance Specialists are available to answer questions or concerns regarding insurance coverage and advocate on a consumer’s behalf to resolve a dispute with an insurance company. Consumers may contact an Insurance Specialist at 1-877-MY-FL-CFO (693-5236) toll-free, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. If you live in Leon County but have a phone number starting with a non-Florida area code, call 850-413-3089. For additional information on preparing for a natural disaster, visit the Department of Financial Services’ website at MyFloridaCFO.com/Division/Consumers and click Disaster Preparedness.
Sandbags can redirect stormwater and debris flows away from homes and other structures if they are correctly filled, placed and maintained. However, sandbags will not seal out water, and residents should not rely on sandbags to save their home from major flooding, especially fast-moving hurricane storm surge flooding. Consider the severity of flood conditions before deciding whether sandbags would provide effective protection.
- Fill sandbags one-half full.
- Fold the top of sandbag down and rest the bag on its folded top.
- Take care in stacking sandbags.
- Limit placement to three layers unless you have a building or wall to use as a backing.
- Tamp each sandbag into place, completing each layer before starting the next layer.
- Clear a path between buildings for debris flow.
- Lay a plastic sheet in between the building and the bags to control the flow and prevent water from seeping through openings, like sliding glass doors.
- Sandbags will not seal out water.
- Sandbags deteriorate when exposed to continued wetting and drying.
- Sandbags are for small water flow protection – up to two feet. Protection from more significant water flow requires a more permanent flood prevention system.
- Wet sandbags are very heavy. Use caution when lifting to avoid injury.
Leon County Sandbag Locations:
- Northeast Branch Library, 5513 Thomasville Road
- Apalachee Regional Park, 7550 Apalachee Parkway
- Fred George Park, 3043 Capital Circle NW
- At the intersection of Oak Ridge Road and Ranchero Road
- Sandbags are made available by Leon County and the City of Tallahassee for heavy rain. Leon County sandbags are limited to 15 bags per household. Residents are encouraged to bring their own shovels as a limited number of tools for filling bags are available. County locations will be staffed. Sites will remain open until officials determine that sandbags are no longer needed.
5-Day Cone Actions:
When the Big Bend area is in the 5-day cone, it’s time to implement your plan and preparations. A hurricane is on a probable path to reach our area in five days.
- Review your family disaster plan.
- Get items from your supply checklist and important papers ready.
- Begin work to prepare your home and yard.
- If you or a family member have special needs, be sure to implement your plan and, if needed, register for a special needs shelter.
3-Day Cone Actions:
As a storm moves closer to land, the accuracy of the forecast increases, and residents should step up their preparation with the following actions:
- Double check your disaster bucket and make necessary purchases.
- Gather special supplies for children, seniors, and pets.
- Be sure you have all materials and tools necessary to shutter windows.
- If your plans are to evacuate, make arrangements, book reservations and pack what you can in your vehicle.
Hurricane Watch Actions (48 hours ahead):
Prepare as if the storm is headed directly for your home. Be ready for a Hurricane Warning within a few hours.
- Fill your vehicle’s gas tank.
- Get cash and secure important papers and valuables.
- Refill medications.
- Fill containers and tubs with water, even if evacuating – you may need the water when you return.
- Secure yard equipment and furniture.
- Shutter your windows.
- If your plans are to evacuate the area, secure your home so you can leave as soon as an evacuation order is issued.
- If you plan to travel or be transported to a public shelter, be sure you have everything you need with you.
Hurricane Warning actions (36 hours ahead):
- Be prepared for an evacuation order to be issued.
- Stay tuned to 99.9, 103.1, 104.9, and 106.1 as well as local news and get your weather radio ready.
- Complete final preparations to evacuate or to shelter in your home.
- If your plan is to travel out of the local area and you can leave at this point, go.
When A Hurricane Strikes:
Prepare for the storm before the arrival of tropical force winds. When hurricanes move onto land, the heavy rain, strong winds, storm surge and crashing waves can damage buildings, trees, cars and other infrastructure.Hurricanes Have Two Main Parts:
The eye of the hurricane is an area of nearly calm winds in the center of the storm where the lowest pressure resides. The eye of a hurricane averages about 20 miles in diameter and often has very few clouds.
The second part is the wall of very tall clouds that surrounds the relatively calm eye. This region, known as the eye wall, is where the hurricane’s strongest winds and heaviest rain occur.
If There Is An Evacuation Order:
- If you’re being transported to a public shelter, be ready to leave when contacted.
- Determine if your residence is affected by the evacuation order — does it include your area, or do you live in a mobile or manufactured home?
- If you are evacuating locally, get to your shelter location within a few hours of the order.
- If you are traveling out of the local area, leave immediately to avoid traffic jams.
- Be aware of your evacuation time range. Evacuations will be issued with beginning and end times.
A Category 1 hurricane with winds of 74 to 95 mph, can rip apart a mobile home. The National Hurricane Center reports that no mobile home or manufactured home — no matter how new it is — can be a safe shelter from hurricane force winds. Also, tornadoes can spin off from hurricanes. Straps or other tie-downs will not protect a mobile home from high winds associated with a hurricane. In 1992, 97% of all manufactured homes in Hurricane Andrew’s path in Dade County were destroyed, compared to 11% of single-family, non-manufactured homes. If a hurricane threatens Leon County, all mobile home residents should plan to evacuate to a safer location. If you must evacuate and do not have access to transportation due to age, disability, or other special needs, you should register now with Leon County Emergency Management.
Plan To Stay If:
- You live in a structure that was built after 1973 when Florida adopted a standard building code.
- You do not live in a manufactured or mobile home.
- Your home is not vulnerable to storm surge or inland flooding.
- You have reduced the threat of falling trees by trimming and/or removing dead, dying or diseased trees.
- You have mitigated the effects of severe winds on your home by installing hurricane shutters on windows and bracing your garage door.
- You have prepared a multi-hazard Disaster Response Plan for yourself, your family, and your pets.
- You have prepared a disaster bucket that includes cash, a supply of food, water and a 1-month supply of prescription medicines.
- You have identified a safe room within your home.
Plan To Evacuate If:
- An evacuation order has been issued.
- You live in a manufactured or mobile home.
- You live in a structure that was built prior to 1973 when Florida adopted a standard building code.
- Your home is vulnerable to storm surge or inland flooding.
- You can leave early enough to meet an estimated regional clearance time of 24 hours. (It is very dangerous to be on the highway during a storm.)
Leon County officials can issue an order directing the evacuation of specific areas of the county deemed to be in danger. Prepare to leave 24 hours prior to the storm landfall in order to give yourself enough time to evacuate. Remember you may need to adjust your preparedness plans based on the latest health and safety guidelines from the CDC and your local officials.
If a tropical storm is approaching or a hurricane is expected to cross Florida and pass over Leon County, the danger from storm surge may be high. Emergency managers may recommend residents in mobile homes or flood prone areas to evacuate to higher ground or a sturdier shelter.
The probability of storm surge is high and could be deadly for residents who don’t leave. It is illegal to stay in a home under a mandatory evacuation order. Residents living in mobile homes should plan to evacuate to a safer location during a mandatory order.
Prior to evacuation, remember:
- Maintain a full tank of gas.
- Bring identification, insurance papers and other important documents for every family member.
- Bring adequate water, snacks, cash and medications.
- Obey all special traffic signs and law enforcement orders.
- Be prepared for extremely heavy traffic. Residents in highly vulnerable areas should leave the area sooner rather than later.
- Be prepared for limited access to gas stations, restaurants and restroom facilities.
Risk shelters may only have water, snacks and a secure area for you to stay safe during a major storm. Shelters may be crowded and are not designed for comfort. If you evacuate to a risk shelter during a disaster, please bring the following items:
- Toiletries and diapers if you are sheltering with young children.
- Prescription medications, identification and any important documents you deem necessary.
- Additional snacks, specifically if you have a special diet.
- Blankets, pillows, and/or sleeping bags. Accommodations at the shelter will be limited.
- Books, puzzles or other entertainment that do not require electricity.
- Two cloth face coverings per person and hand sanitizer. (Please Note: The CDC recommends wearing masks to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, other viruses and the flu. Children under two years old and people that have trouble breathing should not wear face coverings.)
For citizens with special needs
According to the Florida Department of Health, a Special Needs Shelter is for “someone who, during periods of evacuation or emergency, requires sheltering assistance due to physical impairment, mental impairment, cognitive impairment or sensory disabilities.” Special needs shelters are designed to meet the needs of persons who require assistance that exceeds services provided at a general population shelter. If a person is medically stable but needs help with basic tasks or uses an electronic medical device and has no other evacuation options, they should pre-register for a special needs shelter at SNR.FloridaDisaster.org. All information is confidential and protected under Florida Statutes and must be updated on an annual basis. For further assistance, call Leon County Emergency Management at (850) 606-3700.
Protect Your Pets
Inventory your supplies and review all records so your pet can be safe in the event of a hurricane. Make a kit including a pet crate, a list of pet friendly hotels, food and water with respective bowls, medications with instructions for administering, copies of current veterinary records that include your address and phone number, a leash and collar with rabies tag and ID, a picture of your pet and a small box with litter for cats.
Storm surge is the leading cause of death from hurricanes and is the reason hurricane evacuation orders are issued. The Apalachee Bay is one of the most storm surge prone areas in the Southeast. Areas of southern Leon County have been identified as storm surge evacuation zones. Know your zone!
- Zone C (Yellow) – Areas east of Crawfordville Highway to the Leon/Jefferson County Line, and areas along and south of the following roads: Glover Road; Oak Ridge Road; Rhodes Cemetery Road; Meridale Drive.
- Zone D (Green) – Includes all areas in Zone C, in addition to areas east of Springhill Road to the Leon/Jefferson County Line, and areas along and south of the following roads: Capital Circle SW; Capital Circle SE; Tram Road.
- For City of Tallahassee customers, you can report electric outages via the City’s DigiTally App, Talgov.com/Outage, or by calling (850) 891-4YOU (4968). During major events, the City will send information directly to utility customers. Keep your contact details current by visiting Talgov.com/Update or by calling (850) 891-4968.
- For Talquin Electric Members, you can report an electric outage via Talquin’s mobile app for either Apple or Android phones, by texting #OUTAGE to 85700, or by calling 1-866-899-4832 (Automated System) or 1-888-802-1832 (Live Operator). You can also receive notifications via the mobile app or sign up for text alerts at TalquinElectric.com.
- For Duke Energy customers, call 1-800-228-8485. Call wait times will be longer during major events.
- TWO DAYS: The approximate time frozen items can be stored safely if you keep the freezer door shut.
- FOUR HOURS: If your refrigerator’s power is out for longer than this time, move perishable foods into an ice-filled cooler.
If you are considering purchasing a permanently installed standby electric generator fueled by natural gas or propane gas, the City of Tallahassee offers a low-interest loan program for qualified homeowners. To be eligible, the loan applicant must be a City of Tallahassee Electric customer, and a transfer switch, a permit and a passed Growth Management inspection are required. Loan approval is required prior to installation. Get details by calling 850-891-4968.
Keep the generator in a dry place. Remember, a generator can keep your appliances going after a disaster, but it comes with several dangers:
- CARBON MONOXIDE: Use generators outdoors and away from windows and doors to avoid exposure to this deadly, colorless, odorless gas. Never operate a generator indoors.
- FIRE: Make sure the generator is cool when refilling the fuel tank and store flammable fuel away from fuel-burning appliances.
- ELECTRICAL SHOCK: An electrical shock from your generator can kill you.
- Plug appliances directly into the generator or use a heavy-duty, three-pronged extension cord.
- Never try to power the house wiring by plugging the generator into a wall outlet.
If the drinking water supply is compromised by a disaster, a boil water notice will be issued, which means there’s a possibility of contamination.
- BOIL: Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil for 1 minute to kill bacteria, viruses, and parasites.
- BLEACH: Add 1/8 tsp. of unscented bleach per gallon of water and let stand for 30 minutes; bleach used should contain 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite. This is less effective but will work if there’s no way to boil water.
If a sewer outage is announced, DO NOT flush your toilet. Powered sewer lift stations may be down, which could cause a sewage back-up in your home.
Use a chemical toilet or create an emergency toilet by one of the following methods:
- 5-GAL BUCKET: Line with heavy-duty trash bag and use household bleach as disinfectant. Make sure it has a tight lid.
- TOILET BOWL: Turn off your outside water supply first and flush once to empty before lining with a trash bag. Do not use kitty litter — it cannot be flushed after the sewer system is running.
After a storm, roads may be littered with debris and many routes may be flooded. Avoid unnecessary travel and, if you must venture out, always obey Road Closed signs. Never drive through standing water. Treat any intersection with non-working traffic signals as an “all way” stop. Be prepared to stop at every intersection.
In a declared state of emergency, it is illegal to sell necessary goods or services at increased prices. If you believe a business or individual is price gouging, call the Attorney General’s Office at 1-866-9-NO-SCAM (1-866-966-7226).
Hire Licensed Businesses
If repairs to your home or property are needed, hire reputable and licensed people and avoid any contractor or appraiser who says they can adjust your insurance claim. You can verify a contractor’s license and check to see if there are any complaints against them by calling the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation at (850) 487-1395.
Who To Call:
- 9-1-1 for life-threatening emergencies or (850) 606-5800 for non-emergency public safety assistance.
- Citizen Information Line for the latest emergency updates, (850) 606-3700, or use 7-1-1 Florida Relay.
- Contact 2-1-1 Big Bend for 24-hour social services assistance by dialing 2-1-1 or (850) 617-6333.
- For City of Tallahassee Utility information, call (850) 891-4968.
- For Talquin Electric, call 1-888-802-1832.
- For Duke Energy, call 1-800-228-8485.
Preparing Debris For Curbside Pickup:
Debris removal is integral during the response and recovery phase of a disaster. Initial response begins during the disaster event when crews are activated to cut and toss debris off the roadway. Routes to critical facilities (such as hospitals) and other priority routes are addressed first. This process ensures police, firefighters, EMS and other first responders crucial to the response can navigate the roadways safely.
During the recovery phase, eligible disaster-related debris will be collected from residential neighborhoods. Debris should be placed curbside and separated into the following categories: construction, vegetative, household hazardous waste, appliances/white goods and electronics. During this process, DO NOT bag debris or put debris in containers. Depending on the severity of the event, it may take multiple passes before all debris is collected.