Talk about adding insult to injury. While Volusia County is still reeling from the effects of the coronavirus, hurricane season is rearing its ugly head.
The 2020 hurricane season, which got off to an early start in mid-May with Tropical Storm Arthur, is predicted to be more active than usual. The Colorado State University Tropical Meteorology Project is calling for 16 named storms, eight hurricanes and four major hurricanes.
Are you ready?
Create a disaster plan
“Every family should create a disaster plan and start stocking their disaster supply kits,” said Jim Judge, Volusia County’s emergency management director. “After a disaster, emergency workers may not be able to reach everyone right away. In some cases, it may take time for help to arrive. A disaster plan will help to prepare your family for these difficult times.”
Families should discuss their plan as a group so everyone understands what to do and where to go if a disaster occurs, he added.
For help creating a personalized family disaster plan, visit floridadisaster.org.
Disaster supply kit
Your disaster supply kit should include a three- to seven-day supply of water, nonperishable food, medication and other necessity items per person.
To calculate the amount of water and food, consider:
- Drinking water: Have at least one gallon per person per day for five to seven days (preferably for two weeks). To store, use clean, airtight containers, such as two-liter soda, but not milk, containers. If you use reusable plastic bottles, change them each month.
- Water for pets: Have at least a half-gallon per pet per day for five to seven days.
- Food: Have at least enough for three meals a day per person for five to seven days. Food should be nonperishable packaged or canned and should include canned or shelf milk, cereal and snack foods. Foods should meet the dietary needs of infants, the elderly and those with special needs.
- Medications and toiletries: Have a five- to seven-day supply of food, toiletries and extra toilet paper. Stock up on special items such as food, formula, diapers and wipes for infants and those with special needs. Have at least a two-week supply of medications.
For a complete list of items you should include in your disaster supply kit, visit volusia.org/emergency.
Residents should decide now where they will stay if an evacuation order is issued.
“Shelters do not provide luxury accommodations and should be used only as a last resort,” Judge said. “The best place to shelter is outside the evacuation area, in a hotel or in a safe and secure structure with family and friends.”
For those who have no alternatives, general, special needs and pet-friendly shelters will be available at key locations across the county during an emergency. Not all shelters will open at once.
If you must evacuate to a general population shelter, bring your own supplies, such as special dietary food, snacks, water, bedding, medications, extra clothing, clothing, toiletries and hygiene items, personal medications and time occupiers.
It’s important to note that not every person with a disability is eligible to evacuate to a special needs shelter. To register for a special needs shelter and learn what supplies you must bring, visit volusia.org/specialneeds.
Asked how the coronavirus will affect shelter operations, Judge replied: “Social distancing will be practiced at all shelters through the entire operation starting with the sign-in process. Health screenings and temperature checks will be conducted for all persons upon arrival at a shelter. Those seeking shelter must follow CDC face covering guidelines.”
Judge added that routine handwashing will be emphasized and hand sanitizer will be provided. A safety officer will be at each shelter to oversee routine cleaning, food safety and waste management.
One of the most important things residents can do to protect their home and family before a flood is to purchase a federal flood insurance policy. Flood damage is not covered under homeowners insurance policies. Therefore, homeowners and renters must buy a separate flood policy.
“Don’t wait for a hurricane to purchase flood insurance,” Judge advised. “It takes 30 days after purchase for a flood insurance policy to take effect. Also, if a hurricane is within 500 miles of Florida, policies will not be written.”
The average annual cost of flood insurance in Florida is $545. Rates vary depending on your property’s elevation, your house’s structure, and whether you’re in a high-risk zone.
To learn about flood insurance, visit floodsmart.gov. The website can help you rate your risk, estimate premiums, and find an agent.
Emergency Operations Center
In the event of an impending hurricane or other emergency, Volusia County will activate its Emergency Operations Center, which serves as the central coordination center for disaster management. Key disaster response officials – including the Volusia County chair, county manager and emergency management director – convene in the center to make strategic decisions necessary to protect the public during emergencies.
Working space is provided for all disaster response functions and representatives from the county’s 16 municipalities. The operations room, which serves as the “nerve center” during emergency operations, is equipped with extensive telephone, data and radio systems that allow personnel to coordinate disaster operations.
Keeping the public informed during a disaster is one of the county’s major responsibilities. Community Information employees work closely with the news media and update the county’s website and social media sites constantly during emergencies.
Residents can stay informed by:
- Downloading the Volusia County emergency preparedness app at volusia.org/emergency-app. The app features social media posts, push notifications and news blogs. The app’s map feature contains information like weather radar, emergency shelter information, evacuation zones, and evacuation routes for Volusia County.
- Following Volusia County Emergency Management on Facebook and Twitter.
- Calling the Citizens Information Hotline, which is activated only during emergencies, at (866) 345-0345.
- Monitoring local news media.
If you would like to receive emergency telephone or email notifications or follow social media feeds from Volusia County’s Emergency Management Division, visit volusia.org/emergency and click on the "get connected" button in the right menu.