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Prepare for 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season

May 18, 2018
By MEGHAN McCOY - , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Fourteen named storms have been predicted for the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season but numbers do not change how residents need to prepare, Lee County Emergency Management officials said.

Hurricane Irma was a good reminder that living in Southwest Florida residents have to be ready.

"We are working with our community and getting them on the prepare bandwagon to do everything now," Lee County Emergency Management Planning Chief Lee Mayfield said.

Colorado State University is predicting a slightly above-average 2018 Atlantic hurricane season due to the primary factor, a significant El Nino. The Tropical Meteorology Project Team is predicting 14 named storms during the season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30. Of those 14 storms, seven are predicted to become hurricanes, three of which will reach major hurricane strength, a category 3 or higher.

Mayfield said they do not pay much attention to hurricane season predictions because they do not predict how many of those hurricanes will affect Lee County.

"They don't change how we prepare," he said. "A below-average season, don't kick back. We plan. Whatever those long-range forecasts are, it shouldn't change how they prepare for the next storm."

Although emergency management preaches year round to be prepared for all types of disasters, officials are now focusing on hurricane season. People have a little bit of time to prepare to better benefit their family and business when a hurricane strikes.

"Being prepared absolutely works," Mayfield said, something they had learned from Hurricane Irma, which impacted Southwest Florida September 2017.

The more time and effort spent on building a supply kit, the better off individuals will be when a hurricane strikes, which ultimately will lower stress levels.

Preparation falls into three categories - building a family disaster plan, a disaster supply kit and figuring out where to go to receive a good source of information.

A family disaster plan includes such information as contact information, medications, as well as evacuation plans, which Mayfield said can really be a road map for success.

With this hurricane season nearing, Mayfield encourages people to sit down and talk through what their neighborhood will do in case of an evacuation, so they are not making last-minute decisions.

He said it's all about "spending a little bit of time in May and June before we get into the heart of hurricane season, so it is not a gut decision when it's time to evacuate."

A disaster supply kit should include items that will allow individuals to get through the first three to five days after a hurricane. He said individuals should start purchasing items when they go to the grocery store, such as one gallon of water per person per day. In addition, the supply kit should include flashlights and hand crank radios for such circumstances as extended power outages.

As far as reliable sources of information, Mayfield said it is essential to stay informed. Bookmark websites, such as, for updates, evacuation zones and shelters opening.

"Having that good source of information allows (someone) to be more successful after an Irma-type of event," Mayfield said.

With Southwest Florida not having been affected by a hurricane for a number of years, made people complacent, he added. But those who were prepared fared a lot better than those who did not.

The Hurricane Irma recovery still continues to this day. There are a lot of good folks in nonprofits, as well as human services, that are meeting the demands of people still in need,

"It's truly a whole community approach to do a recovery," he said.

During Hurricane Irma evacuations were ordered for approximately 300,000 people, 14 shelters opened where approximately 35,000 people sought refuge - the largest sheltering operation in the state, as well as approximately 3,550 pets being sheltered.

The shelters operated for six weeks and two days.



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