SARASOTA COUNTY – As Florida enters hurricane season today, June 1, residents are encouraged to take precautions for hazardous weather while keeping COVID-19 precautions in mind. Ensure disaster supply kits are complete and plans are made. Knowing the risk, getting prepared, and staying informed are vital steps everyone can take to get ready for hurricane season.
With the COVID-19 pandemic lingering, there are extra considerations residents should keep in mind as they prepare.
COVID-19: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and precautions related to COVID-19 should be utilized in preparations. Add cloth face masks and hand sanitizer to disaster kits. Consider an evacuation plan that allows for staying with friends or family and remember to socially distance if possible.
As to evacuations this year, Sarasota County Emergency Management Chief Ed McCrane shared these thoughts:
“The Emergency Management team has been working with our Sarasota County School District partners and the Department of Health to determine the proper procedures for operating hurricane evacuation centers under COVID-19 conditions. We have been looking at space availability with social distancing, determining the procedures for screening of evacuees as they arrive and increased disinfecting and cleaning procedures. We will be asking all evacuees to continue to consider a hurricane evacuation center as a last resort and make every effort to stay with a friend or family member, outside of the evacuation area.”
Stay Informed: Sign up for Alert Sarasota County or for the Sarasota County emergency newsletter to stay informed in the event of an emergency.
Sign up for both by visiting the Emergency Services page on scgov.net. In addition, monitor local media stations, Sarasota County Facebook and Twitter accounts for hurricane watches and warnings in your area. Remember to follow directions of local officials, along with having a battery-operated or hand-crank radio available should the power go out.
Know Your Risk: The community is encouraged to check and memorize their hurricane evacuation level on the maps available online at scgov.net/beprepared.
According to Sarasota County Emergency Management officials, just because you can’t see water from your home, doesn’t mean you’re not at risk for storm surge. The storm surge maps are available online by visiting scgov.net/beprepared.
Be Prepared: Take action now by having an evacuation plan for your family – including pets – along with a communications plan and a disaster kit. A disaster kit should have supplies to last each person and pet one week to 10 days. Kits should include a cloth mask and hand sanitizer, important paperwork and medications.
Resources and support may not be available within the first 72 hours of a storm, depending on its severity.
The state’s disaster preparedness sales tax holiday is May 29, 2020 through June 4, 2020. A full list of qualifying items can be found at floridarevenue.com/disasterprep.
Those with qualifying medical needs are encouraged to complete the Medically Dependent online application. Online applications will stop being accepted at 60 hours prior to expected impact of storm.
Those who need transportation to an evacuation center are encouraged to fill out the online form. The registration process will cease when landfall is expected within 60 hours.
For more information on how you and your family can be prepared, visit www.scgov.net/beprepared or call Sarasota County Contact Center at 941-861-5000.