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As today marks the beginning of the 2015 hurricane season, my Senate office stands ready to serve you in the event of a storm. Between now and November 30, when the season ends, should a storm hit and Floridians require federal assistance, my office is prepared to help.
Earlier this year, I joined with Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) to introduce the “Hurricane Forecast Improvement Act of 2015,” which would provide more accurate tracking and intensity forecasts allowing people to better prepare for a storm. Our bill would codify the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Hurricane Forecast Improvement Project, which aims to reduce the loss of life, injury, and damage to the economy by reducing errors of tracking and intensity forecasts.
As we continue our efforts in the Senate to improve hurricane forecasting, we must remember it’s important to take time at the start of the season to make sure our families, homes and businesses are prepared in the event of a storm affecting Florida.
NOAA predicted this year’s Atlantic hurricane season will be below-normal, but if you hear about a potential storm approaching, be sure to watch and listen to your local news or log on to the National Hurricane Service’s website for updates and safety tips. Always remember that a hurricane watch is when a hurricane is possible, and a hurricane warning is when a hurricane is expected.
Here are a few tips to help prepare for the 2015 hurricane season, which officially begins June 1 and ends November 30:
- Know your area and the evacuation routes. They are available on the Florida Division of Emergency Management’s Website.
- Have a plan to prepare your home and/or business with storm shutters or plywood. Bring items that could be picked up by the wind and break windows – like lawn furniture, toys, or trash cans – inside.
- Make sure you know where your home’s safe room is located. Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) website details what a safe room should look like.
- Keep your automobile fully fueled; if electric power is cut off, gas stations may not be able to operate pumps for several days.
- Be prepared to survive on your own for a few days. Assemble a disaster kit with a battery-powered radio, flashlights, extra batteries, a first-aid kit, blankets, clothing, food, water, and prescription medications and needed medical supplies. The Florida Division of Emergency Management points you to a good list of items to have ready.
- Know how to shut off utilities. Know where gas pilots are located and how the heating and air-conditioning system works. If you have any questions, contact your local utility company.
- Gather your personal documents – insurance policy information, emergency contact information, and any other vital documents – somewhere they can be easily located and ready to take with you should you have to evacuate your home.
Remember, if you need help or have questions, please contact any of our offices and we will do our best to help.
Some other useful resources:
- National Hurricane Center’s Atlantic Tropical Weather Outlook
- The Weather Channel’s Hurricane Tracker
- Florida Division of Emergency Management
- Red Cross: What should I do BEFORE, DURING, and AFTER a hurricane?
- Red Cross: What supplies do I need?
- FEMA: What should I do BEFORE, DURING, and AFTER a hurricane?