Longboat Chief stresses storm safety

This past week, we all have been watching Hurricane Florence move towards and onto the Carolinas. The damage hurricanes leave behind is devastating and the best chance of survival is to evacuate the area.

Many don’t take hurricane preparation serious until it is too late.  The Town of Longboat Key has and will continue to stress the importance of a hurricane plan and early evacuation. Hurricane Irma can be considered a test to all of us. Although we did not get direct impact from the storm it did allow for the Town to implement emergency procedures and make enhancements to the plan. Also, it should have demonstrated the need for early evacuation of Longboat Key.

Hurricanes can cause catastrophic damage to coastlines and several hundred miles inland. Hurricanes can produce winds exceeding 155 miles per hour as well as tornadoes and mircrobursts. Additionally, hurricanes can create storm surges along the coast and cause extensive damage from heavy rainfall. Floods and flying debris from the excessive winds are often the deadly and destructive results of these weather events. Flash flooding can occur due to intense rainfall.

It is with all this in mind that residents need to be prepared. How does one prepare for a hurricane? The answer is that a plan must be done in advance of a hurricane! Planning on what to do when a hurricane watch or warning is issued is simply too late!

All residents of Longboat Key reside in a Level A Evacuation Zone. This means that Longboat Key is in a low-lying area.

• If you are ordered to evacuate, secure your home and leave immediately.

Remember: Mobile home residents may be ordered to evacuate earlier than the general population depending on anticipated weather conditions.

Decide NOW where you would go if ordered to evacuate go with a friend or relative, a hotel out of the region or as a last resort, to a shelter. If you are going to leave the region or go to a hotel, you must leave early. Determine your route. Just keep in mind that shelters are not fun and not very accommodating.

Prepare your Disaster Supplies Kits: Check periodically during the season and obtain any items you need. Specialize your kits with what YOU and YOUR family need.

Residents must understand the concern of emergency officials is the safety of the residents and visitors of Longboat Key.

The water surge along with the winds during a weather event, such as a hurricane will cause emergency services to change strategies and cease operation for a period of time until conditions become safe for responders. Fire Rescue will cease operation when the winds reach 45 MPH sustained.

As has been said in the past, if residents see the taillights of a fire truck going over the bridge leaving Longboat Key, they have waited too late to evacuate.

Leave early and plan ahead!!

— Longboat Fire Chief Paul Dezzi

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