2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season starts June 1, 2018. Are you prepared?
Phoenix, AZ – May 11, 2018 – Less than three weeks remain for the start of this year’s Atlantic-basin hurricane season impacting Florida, Gulf of Mexico, and the east coast of the United States. Hurricane season officially runs from June 1 through November 30, 2018.
The 2018 hurricane season is shaping to be another big one with a greater than 60% chance of a major hurricane hitting the U.S. coastline, according to a new forecast from top meteorologists. Researchers at Colorado State University estimate that seven hurricanes and 14 named storms will form during this year’s Atlantic hurricane season with the intensity of the season slightly above the average from recent decades.
Every year millions of Americans who live along the U.S. coastline prepare for the possibility of being impacted by straight-line winds, severe thunder storms, tornadoes, tropical storms, flooding and hurricanes in the region.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) has announced the introduction of its newest feature, the Potential Storm Surge Flooding Map, which became available at the start of the 2015 Atlantic Hurricane Seasonin June.
An above-average hurricane season this year would follow devastation wrecked by a series of 12 named storms in 2017 including Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. More than 100 people died in the Caribbean, Puerto Rico, Florida and Texas as a result of major storms last year including The events caused an estimated $200 billion in damage, according to figures from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Unusually warm waters in the western tropical Atlantic contributed to the forecast for an above-average season as hurricanes form more easily in warm conditions. Waters in other parts of the Atlantic remained cooler than average.
The forecast comes long before hurricane season officially begins on June 1 and projections will improve as summer approaches.
Florida Division of Emergency Management – State Emergency Response Team (SERT)
The Florida Division of Emergency Management plans for and responds to both natural and man-made disasters. These range from floods and hurricanes to incidents involving hazardous materials or nuclear power. The division prepares and implements a statewide Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan, and routinely conducts extensive exercises to test state and county emergency response capabilities.
The division is the state’s liaison with federal and local agencies on emergencies of all kinds. Division staff members provide technical assistance to local governments as they prepare emergency plans and procedures. They also conduct emergency operations training for state and local governmental agencies.
After a disaster, the division conducts preliminary damage assessment surveys and advises the Governor on whether to declare an emergency and seek federal relief funds. The division maintains a primary Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in Tallahassee. The EOC serves as the communications and command center for reporting emergencies and coordinating state response activities.
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) – Disaster Preparedness
I was as external affairs field specialist and multilingual public affairs officer with the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency from 2005 to 2012. During that time I was deployed to more than 50 disasters from California to Florida to Massachusetts, and served as spokesperson on a number of disasters including the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in Gulfport, Mississippi and the aftermath of Hurricane Charlie in Southwest Florida. I’ve also served as media spokesperson for AT&T Wireless, Bell South, University of Miami, Miami-Dade Expressway Authority, and the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) during the annual hurricane season.
I conducted daily media interviews with newspaper editors, online media, bloggers, public broadcasting and broadcast radio and television stations when I was deployed to a new disaster in the U.S. One of the typical questions from the media is why isn’t FEMA handing out money, water, food, medicine, blankets, clothes, etc., the day after a major hurricane, tropical storm or tornado strikes a community?
My response was “FEMA is not a first responder. The American Red Cross, the Salvation Army and local churches and faith-based organizations are tasked with being the first relief agencies and/or non-profits on hand to help disaster survivors in the immediate days after a natural disaster. FEMA works closely with state and local emergency managers to assess the long-term needs of disaster survivors.
How does FEMA prepare and what happen when a disaster hits a local community?
The Federal Emergency Management Agency pre-stages emergency supplies throughout the county in advance of a major disaster, e.g., Cat 4 or 5 Hurricanes, major earthquake or major flooding that impacts an entire community, etc. The Federal Emergency Management Agency partners in the initial response phase but especially during the recovery phase of a disaster and is a guest of whatever state it’s in. FEMA is the lead agency in a disaster and works closely with state, county and local emergency managers and officials.
What do local authorities in Southeast and Southwest Florida mean?
Local authorities are emergency managers, law enforcement, and fire department officials in Southwest Florida with the Office of Emergency Management in Charlotte, Collier, Desoto, Hendry, Lee and Sarasota Counties. On the east side of the Everglades local authorities are with the Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties Office of Emergency Management. Other representatives include the City of Naples, Marco Island, Bonita Springs, Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda Office of Emergency Preparedness and Homeland Security, and whatever other local municipality is working with local emergency managers. Everyone needs to check ahead of time with your local authorities to determine what he or she needs to do in the immediate days after a disaster.
What is a Family Emergency Disaster Communication Plan?
More importantly, every individual has to prepare for any disaster whether its man-made, weather related, biological, chemical, etc., by developing a personal family emergency disaster communication plan that includes disaster emergency supplies for each member of your family, a minimum of 5 – 7 days. The emergency communication plan and disaster emergency supplies should also include the needs of your pets, children and elderly individuals who may be living with you at home or nearby.
What do I need to include in a Disaster Emergency Supplies Kit?
Don’t wait until there is a hurricane or tropical storm watch or warning that may impact the residents of Southwest Florida, Southeast Florida or the Florida Keys to prepare. NOW is the time to put together your disaster emergency supplies kit that should include the following:
- A gallon of drinking water per person per day for at least seven days.
- Enough non-perishable food items, a manual can opener per person for at least five to seven days.
- Two months of medication for your children, pets, and grandparents
- Stock up on extra batteries, new flashlights, a NOAA weather radio, non-perishable foods, a manual can opener, candles, and an extra tank of propane gas for your barbecue grill.
- Extra batteries already charged for all of your mobile devices.
- All hazards NOAA Weather Radio, http://www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr/.
Also, it would be a good idea to have an old-fashioned wired landline phone in your house that you can use just in case the electricity goes out. Remember – all those fancy cordless phones that do everything except make espresso – are no good to you if the electricity goes down for days or even weeks.
One more thing – if you are able to do so, purchase a large diesel powered or propane powered generator and have it installed in your home PRIOR to the start of the new hurricane season on June 1. Especially if you are some else in your household is dependent on oxygen, a respirator, or other device that needs to be connected to electricity 24 hours a day, seven-days-a-week. Unfortunately, FPL is the only option when it comes to electricity for most of us and time and time again they perform miserably after a major storm, never mind a tropical storm or hurricane.
The bottom line is – you and only you are responsible for the safety and well-being of your family before, during and after a disaster. Here are some useful websites to help you prepare and keep your family safe:
The following is a list of useful websites to help you prepare and keep your family safe during a disaster in the US.
Be Prepared. Have a Plan. Keep Your Family Safe.
Pete E Cento
Disaster Preparedness, Emergency Management, Public Affairs
Wild Cats Enterprises
Phoenix, Arizona 85044