The latest forecast for the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season calls for above average tropical activity. Colorado State University predicts 19 named storms, 9 hurricanes, and 4 major hurricanes. Worse, they indicate a 47 percent chance that a major hurricane (Category 3 or higher) will hit the Florida peninsula this year. Improve your odds of weathering a storm by preparing now.
Pinellas County Emergency Management (www.pinellascounty.org/emergency) is your best local resource for hurricane preparedness. They publish an annual Hurricane Preparedness Guide that has updated evacuation zones as well as tips for what to do before, during, and after a hurricane strikes.
First, know your evacuation level. If you are in ANY of the evacuation zones, have a plan for where to go whether it’s a shelter, a friend or relative’s house in a non-evacuation zone, or out of the area of impact entirely. When the order to evacuate comes, do not delay.
Follow the guidelines in the Hurricane Preparedness Guide to secure your home, vehicles, or business. If you’re staying in your home, make sure you have two weeks of supplies including food, water, sanitary supplies, medicines, a first aid kid, and batteries. Sunscreen, insect repellent, ropes, tarps, garbage bags, and tools can also be useful – particularly in the aftermath of the storm. Don’t rely on candles, as they can cause house fires and take proper precautions while using generators.
Remember that during the most intense periods of a hurricane, law enforcement, fire personnel, and EMS will not be able to respond to calls for service because it is simply too dangerous for emergency vehicles to be on the roads. This makes it all the more important that you plan for the safety of you and your family. Don’t take unnecessary risks – many dangers exist both during and after a hurricane.
911 will continue to take calls throughout a storm, and operators can guide citizens through many emergencies. After conditions improve, emergency personnel can be dispatched.
All of Pinellas County’s barrier islands are mandatory evacuation zones when a hurricane strikes. Abandoned houses and businesses could be easy prey for looters and burglars. To prevent that, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office has implemented Emergency Access Permits.
During and immediately after the storm, the bridges to the barrier islands will be closed until the area is safe. When the storm has passed and the evacuation order is lifted, only residents and business owners who have been issued a re-entry pass will be allowed to return to the islands. Deputies stationed at the nine re-entry points will scan the barcode and let the resident pass. Anyone without an access pass will be refused entry.
Citizens should apply for their permits now, and not wait until a storm is approaching. A maximum of two permits may be issued for each residential address. Owners of boat slips are also eligible for a permit. Residents may apply online at www.pcsoweb.com/emergency-access-permit or register in person with their local city government. Commercial property owners must apply in person.
With planning, preparation, and a cooperative partnership among citizens, Emergency Management, and the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, we can keep Pinellas safe this hurricane season.
Non Emergency Line: (727) 582-6200 | In an Emergency call 911ADA info