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  1. #1
    District Chief distchief60b's Avatar
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    Exclamation Chance for Hurricane hit in Fla double in 2005

    Fort Myers News Press.com

    Chance of hurricane hit in Fla. doubles this year

    By JEFF CULL
    JCULL@NEWS-PRESS.COM
    Published by news-press.com on June 1, 2005

    Hurricane season begins today and, according to forecasts, Floridians should keep a wary eye on the weather maps.

    Storm guru William Gray and his team at Colorado State University said Tuesday the chances of a major hurricane (winds above 110 mph) hitting the Sunshine State are nearly twice as high as the average over the past century.

    Gray's latest hurricane forecast predicts 15 named storms — compared to a 50-year average of 9.6 — and eight hurricanes, up from the average of 5.9.

    "Residents along the East Coast should not expect the typical U.S. hurricane landfalling conditions of the last 40 years to be the norm for the next few decades," Gray said. "As last year

    made very clear, citizens along the eastern seaboard should always be prepared for landfalling hurricanes."

    The Colorado State report shows a continuation of a decade-long trend of more-active hurricane seasons.

    Last year, there were 16 named storms. This year, there's a 77 percent chance of a major hurricane hitting the U.S. coastline. During the past 100 years, there's been an average of 52 percent.

    In the last decade, just six of 38 major hurricanes made landfall in the United States. The chances are 59 percent for Florida's peninsula, while the long-term average is 31 percent.

    The Atlantic Ocean is reportedly warmer than usual, even warmer than last year, which produced four devastating hurricanes that hit Florida in August and September.

    There's also a decreased likelihood that the Pacific Ocean weather phenomenon called El Ni–o will stave off hurricane formation. That weather pattern typically creates vertical winds in the Atlantic, which clip the tops off tropical storms as they develop.

    "In general when we have a warmer Atlantic, we have more intense storms and more of them," said Philip Klotzbach, a Colorado State research associate and co-author of this year's forecast.

    Lee County emergency manager John Wilson said the Colorado forecast mirrors predictions from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that forecast 12 to 15 tropical storms, seven to nine hurricanes and three to five major hurricanes.

    "My concern is: will we have the same atmospheric conditions as last year?" he said, explaining that high pressure areas blocked Hurricane Charley from taking a more traditional northerly path and turned it into Southwest Florida.

    Wilson said the county uses government and contract meteorologists to look at those conditions more closely as mid-summer brings more storm activity in the Atlantic.

    While this storm season is expected to be busy, there's little chance of a repeat of last year.

    "The odds of having those kinds of storms are very, very slim," Klotzbach said. "Last year was quite an anomaly."

    Gray and his team will make their next predictions Aug. 5, which will include month-by-month forecasts. Hurricane season concludes on Nov. 30.

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    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.


  2. #2
    District Chief distchief60b's Avatar
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    Bradenton Herald

    183 days, 1 antsy state

    Florida's 2005 season forecast: unpredictable

    AIMEE JUAREZ

    Herald Staff Writer


    MANATEE - Fifteen could bring tropical winds and rain. Nine could tear off roof shingles and knock down power lines or trees. And at least three could produce winds strong enough to rip through a home.

    Almost a year after four hurricanes carved their way through Florida's coasts, leaving a trail of destruction, death and devastation in their aftermath, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts a similar pattern for the 2005 hurricane season, forecasting 15 tropical storms, nine hurricanes and three to five intense hurricanes.

    A 2005 tropical cyclone projections study by Dr. William Gray and the Tropical Meteorology Project at Colorado State University indicates the chance of a powerful, Category 3 or higher hurricane striking Manatee County and its surrounding counties remains relatively low.

    According to the study, Manatee County's chance of experiencing such an intense hurricane in the next 50 years is 2 percent. The odds of a less-intense hurricane making landfall remain nearly as low at 8 percent, and the odds of a tropical storm striking Manatee County are slightly higher at 36 percent.

    Sarasota and Pinellas counties each has a 4 percent chance of an intense hurricane striking the region within the next 50 years, according to Gray's projections. For Charlotte County, which suffered the violent wrath of Hurricane Charley last year, the probability of another intense hurricane striking the region is down to 2 percent.

    With the ghosts of hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne still fresh in the Gulf Coast's collective memory, public safety officials and meteorologists say it's too risky to cast off safety and precautionary measures based on Gray's predictions.

    "I'm sure he knows what he's talking about, but I don't think I want to bet the ranch on that," Holmes Beach Police Chief Jay Romine said. "If Charley almost cut Captiva Island in half, imagine what it could have done here."

    Romine and Dan Noah, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Ruskin, also cite Mother Nature's tragic flaw: She's unpredictable.

    "These statistics are just that - statistics," Noah said. "Nobody can give you a guess where they're going to be this year. The main thing is to watch the weather and prepare for it."

    What to expect

    Tropical storm activity in Florida has been above normal since 1995, according to Noah. Meteorologists expect that pattern to remain high for the next 20 years. That may explain why 2005 may bear resemblance to last year's hyperactive season, which spawned the storms that battered Florida's coasts.

    For now, the paths of this year's Atlantic storms - Arlene, Bret, Cindy, Dennis, Emily, Franklin, Gert, Harvey, Irene, Jose, Katrina, Lee, Maria, Nate, Ophelia, Philippe, Rita, Stan, Tammy, Vince and Wilma - remain uncharted.

    Maps and forecasts offer only uncertain probabilities. And a crystal ball doesn't help much, either.

    The only thing weather experts can do is monitor a system as it forms and approaches the coast, according to Noah. Then they monitor its five-day forecast, and even that can be unreliable at times, as Hurricane Jeanne proved in September when it wobbled onto Florida's east coast.

    The Manatee County Department of Public Safety usually begins its preparations on June 1. This year, the agency started about a week early when Hurricane Adrian, a Pacific storm that battered Central America, developed a trajectory aiming just off the tip of South Florida.

    "We plan the same way we plan every year," said Capt. Larry Leinhauser, spokesman for the Manatee County Department of Public Safety. "We prepare for the worst and hope for the best."

    2004's active season

    In a matter of seven or eight weeks in 2004, Manatee County managed to dodge four bullets named Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne. While each storm skirted near the county and left heavy rains, the four also left combined damage estimated at more than $13 million.

    Charley came first. The quick-moving, Category 4 hurricane made landfall at Captiva Island on the afternoon of Aug. 13.

    Gulf waters swelled off the Charlotte County coast, surging 13 to 15 feet as the storm approached the mainland, near the mouth of Peace River. Its 145 mph winds sheared roofs, destroyed homes, snapped light posts and knocked down trees in Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte. It carved a trail of destruction, death and devastation as it made its way past Myakka City toward Arcadia, in the heart of DeSoto County.

    Locally, Charley caused $1.9 million in public damage. Nonetheless, Friday the 13th proved lucky for Manatee County residents, who made it through Charley practically unscathed.

    Frances followed less than a month later. Unlike its predecessor, Frances was a slow mover and a soaker. The hurricane, a Category 4 storm at its peak, slammed the South Florida coast near Vero Beach on Sept. 5. Keeping a slow pace, the storm deteriorated into a tropical storm as it crawled toward Tampa at 8 mph, with its maximum sustained winds at 65 mph.

    The storm dumped two to five inches of rain on Manatee County two days after it made landfall and caused an estimated $3.5 million damage.

    Hurricane Ivan breezed past Manatee County in the Frances' wake. With its 110 mph winds, the Category 3 hurricane skirted Manatee County in the Gulf of Mexico, eroding Anna Maria Island beaches as it barrelled toward the Panhandle in late September. The storm made its presence known in Manatee County, causing an estimated $1.8 million damage.

    Days after Ivan, Hurricane Jeanne made a wobbly turn into Florida's east coast on Sept. 26. With winds of 50 to 60 mph battering Bradenton and western Manatee County, the one-time Category 3 storm also skirted the area. The storm caused an estimated $4.9 million in damage, toppling trees, knocking down billboards and power lines and damaging roofs.

    What happened?

    So why did four hurricanes strike Florida in a matter of weeks?

    "A lot of it had to do with the position of the Bermuda high-pressure system, a very large scale feature that forms in the eastern and central Atlantic and helps flow around high pressure," Noah explained. "The flow around it is clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and it can act as a steering mechanism for hurricanes. Last year, they were all steered into Florida rather than Texas or the East Coast."

    Thirty-one Florida deaths were a direct result of last year's hurricanes, according to the National Weather Service. An additional 92 deaths were an indirect result of the hurricanes and were caused by incidents such as candle fires or carbon monoxide poisoning after residents ran generators inside garages, for example.

    "That's the most since the 1935 Labor Day hurricane that hit the Florida Keys," Noah said.

    Manatee County public safety officials tallied an estimated $13.5 million in damages to area homes and businesses.

    Numerous exhausted Manatee County police officers, sheriff's deputies, troopers and firefighters were sent to aid other emergency crews and law enforcement agencies throughout the state after each hurricane.

    Cedar Hammock Fire Division Chief David Quaderer, Bradenton Fire Division Chief David Dobrzykowski and Southern Manatee Fire Chief Thomas Hennessy all said area fire and law enforcement officials learned a valuable lesson in mutual aid during last year's hurricane season.

    "We've dodged a bullet all these years," Hennessy said. "I think the biggest thing we learned is we're just as vulnerable as ever. We're always helping each other any way we can, and we learned when you have an incident of that magnitude, you need all the manpower you have."

    Holmes Beach Chief Romine agreed.

    "We got all of our practice last year," he said. "It made us more aware of what can actually happen."

    Staying safe

    Plywood, shutters, generators, batteries, flashlights, canned food. The standard hurricane checklist applies this season just as it did the last.

    Experts say stocking up early isn't a bad idea, even if a storm doesn't hit the immediate area.

    "I think we were starting to get into a mass panic after Charley, and that's not necessary if people are prepared in advance," Noah said. "Have your hurricane gear ready and important documents in a ZipLok bag ready to go. As far as protecting your house, the number one thing to do is keep the wind from getting inside, and there are numerous ways to try to do that."

    While shutters and plywood usually do the trick, Quaderer advises to take them down once the threat of a storm passes. Most people tend to barricade themselves inside their home throughout hurricane season, and that can be dangerous.

    "One of the things we want people to remember is when they board up and secure their homes to remember their egresses - at least have two ways in and out," he said. "Don't block yourself in in case of another emergency" like a fire, he said.

    Preparation stretches beyond just stocking up on supplies early. It also includes planning an evacuation route and learning more about shelters in the area.

    To help residents on the island, the city of Holmes Beach redesigned its Web site, which includes important information on hurricane safety and evacuation routes. Romine said the biggest problem his agency encountered last year involved rumor control and locking down the bridge.

    Some evacuated early - up to 18 hours early - when they got word of the bridge lockdown, according to Romine.

    "It was a ghost town," he said.

    Others thought lockdown meant officials would open the bridge, which would leave residents stranded on the island. That's the reason the Web site is in place - to quell such myths.

    "Sometimes rumors work in your favor," he said. "Other times they don't."

    The chief said his staff and other public safety officials usually err on the side of caution, especially when a powerful storm threatens.

    "If you choose to stay, you're on your own," Romine said. "We're not going to be here. We're not going to put our people at risk because somebody didn't do what they should have done. We don't second guess for a minute."

    It's difficult for public safety officials and weather experts to speculate on what the 2005 hurricane season may bring. While predictions indicate it may be as hectic as last year's season, it may not.

    But there is one message they do stress: Be ready, regardless.

    "It's going to happen," Noah said. "It's just a question of when."
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

  3. #3
    District Chief distchief60b's Avatar
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    '04 proved you can't just run away

    Storm tracks showed there's no 'magical place' to hide, even inland

    By VICTOR HULL



    victor.hull@heraldtribune.com

    David Gaylord's idea of safe haven during a hurricane took a beating last summer.

    Gaylord, a Florida resident since 1985, had long figured far inland was the place to go when a hurricane threatened his low-lying St. Petersburg home. But he and his family nearly lost their lives when they fled to rural Arcadia to escape Hurricane Charley -- only to find themselves directly in the violent storm's path.

    "I don't think anywhere is safe in Florida after last year," said Gaylord, 34, who survived with his wife and 2-year-old son and 1,000 others after a public shelter collapsed around them. "It was unbelievable."

    Of all the lessons last year's hurricanes taught, none stands out more than the truth of the storms' unlimited reach -- even to the rural inland areas commonly thought to be less vulnerable to howling winds.

    The realization has repercussions for inland and coastal residents as they plan for the six-month 2005 hurricane season that began Wednesday. And it adds to the complex job facing emergency managers.

    Emergency managers still urge those who could be killed in a storm surge, such as barrier island residents, to evacuate. The same goes for others in more fragile housing, such as mobile homes. But even then, they say, people should look to friends or relatives living tens, not hundreds, of miles away.

    The rest should concentrate on securing their homes, covering windows, strengthening garage doors and taking other steps to make their houses into refuges, said Chuck Johnston, Sarasota County's interim director of emergency management.

    "We're not trying to get people to run away from a hurricane," said Mike Stone, spokesman for the state's Division of Emergency Management. "There's no magical place that you're just going to miss one of these."

    Inland counties including Hardee, Polk and Highlands sustained serious damage in three of the four storms that pummeled Florida last year.

    The first, Charley, proved particularly brutal, retaining its hurricane force as it angled northeast across Florida and exited near Daytona Beach. After crashing ashore in Charlotte County as a Category 4 storm, with winds topping 145 mph, Charley was still a Category 3 storm when it hit Hardee County. And it battered Orlando with gusts above 100 mph.

    "The perception that we're safe deep in Central Florida -- that's gone," said Hardee County's emergency manager, Richard Shepard. "That's out the window. It was . . . It was really a wake-up call."

    Gaylord, a Pinellas Park businessman, didn't feel panic as forecasters predicted Charley's landfall in the Tampa Bay area. He worried that his home could be damaged, but felt safe heading to DeSoto County, where his wife, Michelle, grew up.

    Even when Charley unexpectedly turned toward Arcadia, he said he still wasn't worried. He didn't think the wind would be that bad inland, especially in a public shelter, a civic center.

    Instead, winds over 100 mph crashed into the building. The roof caved in.

    "I thought we were all going to die," Gaylord said.

    Frank Lepore, a spokesman for the National Hurricane Center in Miami, said hurricanes have demonstrated their destructive force well inland in other states, such as South Carolina. But he said Florida hasn't seen those effects for years.

    For example, Hurricane Andrew, which devastated southern Dade County in 1992, was still a powerful storm as it crossed Florida's tip. But it passed through the unpopulated Everglades and exited south of Naples.

    Other storms have dumped rain inland, but didn't have as much wind.

    "We tend to forget that these are very large areas of circulation," he said.

    Hurricanes typically lose some of their wind punch as they move over land. But no area of Florida is farther than 75 miles from shore, leaving the storms less time to lose force. Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne, which followed Charley in September, weakened to tropical storms as they crossed the state, but the storms were so large they affected much of the state with wind, rain, or both.

    Hurricanes also spawn tornadoes that can affect inland areas. Of the nine spun off by Charley, six were in inland counties.

    Sarasota County's Johnston said people should have "gotten over the false sense of security that the farther inland you go, the safer you are." Security, he and other emergency officials repeat, comes from planning and preparing and then acting on those plans.

    But preparing for hurricanes has gotten more difficult as the state's population has soared past 17 million. More people live on the coast, where storm surge increases the risk of death.

    The road network is inadequate for handling a massive evacuation, and there's a shortage of adequate shelter space.

    The Gaylords, who now have a six-week-old son in addition to a 3-year-old boy, discussed their hurricane plans this week. David Gaylord said have storm shutters and plan to stay put if a hurricane crosses from the Atlantic side.

    If one comes from the Gulf of Mexico, they'll again head inland to avoid storm surge. But he said he has no illusions about escaping danger altogether.

    "We'll go to Ocala," he said, "and hope for the best."
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

  4. #4
    District Chief distchief60b's Avatar
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    St. Cloud pulled together in crisis
    02 Jun 2005
    By Jason Holland News-Gazette Staff Writer
    St. Cloud city officials credited good planning and a strong sense of community among employees and citizens for pulling the city through three hurricanes last year, but as in other municipalities around the state, they continue to look at ways to improve emergency preparedness and post-storm procedures.

    St. Cloud Mayor Glenn Sangiovanni said having an autonomous emergency operations center in the city, complimented by an effective link with Osceola County’s center through the presence of city representatives, were areas of success last year. Also noted were strong ties with electricity provider Orlando Utilities Commission, which allowed easier restoration of service and dissemination of information, as well as cooperation with other local governments for post-storm work such as debris removal.

    Sangiovanni said what tied it all together was city staff.

    “What worked last year was the loyalty of the employees. You don’t know what you’re going to get until it happens, and they all stepped up to the challenge,” said Sangiovanni.

    “Not only OUC, city staff and elected officials, but the citizens themselves came together as a community. We found out we truly are a community.”

    Of course, there were several areas that city officials found were in need of improvement.

    Employees in all departments have received extra training in their roles during an emergency situation and also how to prepare their own homes and families.

    “If we can have employees ready, they will be more readily available,” said Bill Johnston, assistant fire chief and unofficial emergency operations coordinator.

    Sangiovanni said an important element of that training was informing staff what shelters were available to their families and who to report to in an emergency situation.

    Other training focused on updated emergency response to different scenarios — for example, how the fire and public works departments would collaborate when responding to a call where downed trees blocked access to residents in need.

    A big part of the new procedures is improved communications with the public, especially with those sitting at home in the dark.

    Communication with the public in the aftermath is vital, said Johnston.

    There are preliminary plans for roadside electric signs and notices posted at City Hall to tell residents about where to get water, ice and other information.

    Sangiovanni said joint planning with OUC will also help. Public meetings have already been held to explain the schedule of power restoration, as well as preparation and safety.

    Many residents were confused when neighbors had power and they did not, said Sangiovanni, and with workshops like this and informational fliers distributed, these misunderstandings can be cleared up.

    According to Johnston, the city is still technically in recovery mode with a damaged fire station still in need of replacement and Federal Emergency Management Agency funds for cleanup still forthcoming. Repairs to the city’s emergency operations center have been completed.

    “We still have 54 damaged structures,” said Johnston.

    Johnston stressed the need to not forget about ongoing storm recovery, even as the city gears up for another hurricane season. Also important, said Johnston, is realizing that although last year was exceptional, this area will always be vulnerable to the threat of hurricanes.

    “We need to prepare. We live in the state of Florida,” said Johnston.

    Some areas identified for improvement might have to wait. On Johnston’s wish list is a possible dedicated emergency management position on the city staff. Currently, although he handles much of that work, there is no official manager.

    However, as the 2005 hurricane season starts, city leaders are confident St. Cloud is ready.

    “You never really know until you have experience and until there are lessons learned,” said Sangiovanni. “Now we have experience and have gone back and dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s, so we are definitely more prepared.”
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

  5. #5
    District Chief distchief60b's Avatar
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    Default Departments Statewide Pledge there Help

    Fire officials pledge to help after storms despite cost


    There have been concerns about FEMA reimbursing their crews after deployment.


    By BRIDGET MURPHY, The Times-Union


    With a new hurricane season here, regional fire officials say they're ready to send first responders wherever they're needed after a storm hits, despite budget woes and some nervousness about being reimbursed for the missions.


    Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department Chief Rick Barrett said he's gotten a promise from Mayor John Peyton that if some of the city's 1,200 firefighters are needed elsewhere after a hurricane, they'll be going.

    "I have his commitment that mutual aid is important," Barrett said. "He's given me full authority to deploy anywhere in the state I need."

    Last summer, Jacksonville firefighters headed south after Hurricane Charley and to the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Ivan.

    So far, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has reimbursed all but $5,000 of the $401,000 spent, Barrett said.

    Northeast Florida fire departments have gotten most of the funds back from the federal agency. But that didn't come without a fight after FEMA said in March it wouldn't pay for the money spent on backfill, the staffing costs for personnel filling in for firefighters at home when they're away on mutual aid missions.

    Florida Fire Chiefs Association Executive Director Larry Scovotto said while some fire chiefs have concerns about getting the money back this year, it won't stop them from sending help.

    "The only trepidation I see is that people are afraid FEMA's going to change the rules after the game," he said.

    Scovotto said fire chiefs are also dealing with some local officials' resistance when it comes to deployments because of municipal budget problems.


    Barrett


    Nassau County Fire Rescue Chief Charles Cooper said budget woes won't keep his firefighters -- about 90 in all -- home if the call for help comes. The county sent a rescue and engine company to DeSoto and Charlotte counties after Hurricane Charley and to the Gulf Coast area after Hurricane Ivan.

    Federal money has trickled in, Cooper said, with Nassau County waiting to recoup $8,000 of about $20,000 spent last season.

    "We have to look at the big picture. Can we afford to send these resources? But a cry for help -- that's what we're here for," he said.

    St. Johns County Fire Rescue spokesman Jeremy Robshaw said his agency recouped all hurricane-related funds from FEMA after sending some personnel both south and to the Gulf Coast.

    "Our first goal is to go help whatever county is in need in hopes that if we were ever in need, it would come to us," he said of the 200-firefighter department.

    Clay County Fire Rescue spokeswoman Bernita Bush said two local emergency management officials deployed to hard-hit zones after the storms last year and her agency's 125 firefighters will be standing by to answer calls for help in other counties this year, as they were during last year's four hurricanes.

    Jacksonville Fire Battalion Chief Dale Margadonna led about 40 firefighters in a more than weeklong deployment after Hurricane Charley in August. The team helped organize relief efforts for exhausted first responders in Hardee and DeSoto counties, manning fire stations and answering emergency calls after participating in search and rescue efforts.

    That help couldn't come soon enough, he said Wednesday, remembering the look of relief on a Hardee County fire official's face when a Jacksonville fire apparatus pulled up in a staging area.

    "I said, 'We're from Jacksonville,'" the chief recalled, "'what can I help you with?'"
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

  6. #6
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    News Journal online

    Seminar helps Edgewater citizens get prepared

    By LYNN BULMAHN
    Staff Writer

    Last update: June 23, 2005


    EDGEWATER -- Edgewater Fire Chief Tracey Barlow said there are two kinds of hurricane survivors from last year's storms.

    Those who stayed where they were and wished they'd evacuated. And those who evacuated and wished they'd stayed home.

    But, although they've made it through three hurricanes, he said there still are things they need to know.

    So, the city sponsored a hurricane preparedness seminar Tuesday night. A room full of people at the Edgewater Community Center listened intently to information that could help save their lives and property.

    "June 1 is the time to start planning and stocking up on supplies," Barlow said. "Not when the hurricane is approaching."

    The seminar focused on insurance coverage to help victims rebuild.

    Francis Ford, of the state Department of Insurance, said customers should review their policy each time it is renewed.

    "They change every year," he said. "Trust me."

    Edgewater Leisure Services employee Christi Moeller, who was host for the event, said since home values are rising, many homeowners may need to adjust the amount their homes are insured for.

    "Today, the average cost of building a home in Florida is $100 a square foot," she said. "If you've been here any time, you should talk to your insurance agent because you're probably not adequately covered."

    Insurance agent Trey Harshaw urged people to videotape all the belongings in their homes, including closets, storage sheds and garage. He said it's helpful to narrate the video, talking about each item. Store the tape in a bank vault or send it to an out-of-state relative.

    "Write down everything you own and how much you paid for it," he said, adding receipts and documentation will help them be reimbursed for their items. Make sure the policy pays the actual replacement cost, instead of depreciating the cost of an older appliance or television.

    He also recommended flood insurance coverage.

    "You live on a sandbar near the Atlantic Ocean and the river, so everyone's in a flood zone here," he said.

    Ford agreed, adding Southeast Volusia is so close to water, it could have a storm surge someday.

    The seminar also covered safety, evacuations and sheltering.

    Right now, Barlow said, all residents should plan an evacuation route and put current road maps in their vehicles. If Interstate 95 becomes one long traffic jam in a mandatory evacuation, families can use the maps to find a detour.

    Before leaving, secure your house.

    "You should know and teach family members how and when to turn off the gas, electricity and water prior to a storm," Barlow said.

    Trim trees now, and work things out with neighbors if a dying tree threatens your property.

    When storms are forecast, secure outdoor items.

    If your home has no widow protection, such as hurricane shutters or plywood, get it now.

    "During Frances and Charley, those few homes with wind damage were those without shutters," Barlow said.

    When power is out, firefighters urge people to use battery-operated lights instead of candles or kerosene lanterns. Fires have resulted from the latter.

    People using generators should use battery-operated carbon monoxide monitors to ensure gasoline fumes don't cause harm.

    "All of our significant injuries occurred in the recovery phase," Barlow said, emphasizing residents should be careful when using power equipment, ladders and generators.

    James Peer of Sabal Palm Drive said although he weathered last year's hurricanes at home, he attended the seminar to learn more about evacuations and storm safety.

    "What bothers me is if they evacuate you, you could be on the highway and there you are stuck in the weather," he said.


    Judy Schreier, who operates an assisted living center, said she attended the seminar just in case there's anything else she can do for her patients.

    "I'm glad they're doing this because a lot of people have to know these things," she said.

    lynn.bulmahn@news-jrnl.com
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

  7. #7
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    That's all I need more huricanes to deal with,Ivan's wrath cost me egnough, but it at least there is no snow in the winter.

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