By Coastal Breeze News Staff
The only certainty about hurricanes is their uncertainty. Even the pundits and experts acknowledge the problems of knowing if, when and where they will strike. The only areas of common agreement are that residents and visitors should be prepared with necessary supplies such as water, canned or dry food, a full gasoline tank and drinking water; and that it is extremely dangerous to ignore warnings and evacuation orders. Too many lives have been lost by people who did not appreciate the danger that goes along with a severe tropical storm.
Although Marco Island has not had a severe hurricane in some years, the threat is always there. Thanks to the City of Marco Island and the Humane Society there is some valuable information to help protect people, pets, property and livestock:
The following has been provided by the City of Marco Island. Living and working in our community is a very enjoyable experience for everyone. However one must remain alert and aware during Hurricane Season, which runs from June, 1st through November 30th.
The City of Marco Island and the Marco Island Civic Association are committed to making your experience during this time enjoyable and SAFE! This guide was created to educate you on how to prepare for a hurricane, inform you of the hazards and provide knowledge which can be used to take action!
Obtaining a Hurricane Re-entry Sticker
The City of Marco Island issues Hurricane re-entry stickers to assist in providing immediate re- entry to the City after a storm event if the conditions are not extremely dangerous. Resident re- entry stickers will be issued to all residents providing proof of residency through one of the following:
• Drivers license with a Marco Island address.
• Vehicle registration with a Marco Island address.
• Homeowners tax receipt.
Residents can receive two (2) re-entry stickers unless vehicle registrations are provided for multiple vehicles. The re-entry stickers are available at City Hall, Mackle Park and the Fire Station.
Re-entry stickers cannot be obtained for friends or neighbors.
The re-entry sticker should be placed on the driver’s side front bumper. Resident’s may prefer to store the re-entry sticker in the glove compartment of a vehicle and then apply to the front bumper before returning to Marco Island.
Vehicles without decals may be delayed in return to Marco Island. This type of identification will permit more efficient control of re-entry. However, depending on circumstances, the decal may not guarantee re-entry.
When re-entry is permitted following a hurricane citizens and their vehicles may be returning to a dangerous and unsafe environment. All must drive slow, remain alert for dangerous conditions, and accept responsibility for their personal safety and welfare.
The State of Florida has made it very easy to help you prepare an overall disaster preparedness plan. Please take the time to go to their website at www.florida disaster.org and follow the steps in creating your overall family or business plan.
Identify and confirm ahead of time where you will go when you are told to evacuate. Choose a friend’s home in another town, a motel, or a shelter. Determine to leave early before roads become congested or impassable. Allow for three times the normal driving time. Make sure you tell your family of your plan.
Option A: STAY WITH A FRIEND OR RELATIVE WHO HAS A SAFE PLACE
If you expect to stay at someone else’s home during a hurricane or disaster, make arrangements in advance. Make sure their home will be adequately prepared, supplied and that it is safe. Also, consider where you will go if they are out-of-town. Bring plenty of supplies, be considerate.
Option B: RELOCATE OUT OF THE AREA
You may wish to travel out of the area to escape the hurricane threat. Keep a current road map and know where you are going so you can plan the best route. Also plan an alternate route. If there is an ill or disabled per- son in your home, get the doctor’s advice on needed accommodations. If you leave, go early to avoid traffic, possible flooding, and high winds. Hotel and shelter accommodations may be scarce or non-existent south of the Orlando/Kissimmee areas. Be sure to make advance reservations for any hotel or motel.
Option C: PUBLIC SHELTERS
(Last Resort) If you are in need of a shelter, go to a designated public shelter. Stay tuned to local radio and television stations to find out what time each designated shelter will open. Some of the public schools within Collier County may be used as Red Cross shelters depending upon their construction. The designated schools will not be announced until just before the evacuation notice is given. Designated shelters will be opened as needed in safe areas. Shelter addresses will be announced. Shelters are cramped, noisy and uncomfortable places to wait for a hurricane to pass and may not allow pets.
To prepare for the unknown, each home should have a Disaster Preparedness Kit. The kit will contain some essential items to help you and your family survive. Following is a minimum suggested list of Disaster Preparedness Kit supplies. In addition, attempt to maintain a three week supply of non perishable food for each person and pet stored at home. A valuable item to have is a weather alert monitor that alarms when weather advisories are issued. They are inexpensive and are equipped with battery backup.
Home Disaster Preparedness Kit
• Cash, Cell Phone
• Butane or fluid lighter and candles
• Hygiene products
• Cans of Sterno for cooking heat
• Small cans of food, fruit and juices
• Special food for infants
• Manual can opener
• Cards, books and small game
• Medications and prescriptions
• Road maps
• Medical history record
• Baby needs
• Inclement weather clothing
• First aid kit
• Camera and film
• Battery operated radio and flashlight
• Drinking water (1gal/person/day)
• Paper plates / napkins / cups
• Fresh batteries
• Blankets, pillows, linens
• Sleeping bag / air mattress
• Toilet paper
• Sanitary supplies
• Charcoal for grilling
• Picnic supplies
Should you be required to evacuate, be prepared to take with you a seven day supply of applicable items with you, for each person. At a minimum, be sure to include:
• Water (one gallon per person per day)
• Non-perishable, ready-to-eat food (manual can opener)
• Disposable plates and utensils
• Battery-powered flashlight
• Battery-powered radio
• Extra batteries
• First aid kit
• Prescription medication (two-week supply)
• Eye glasses or contact lenses
• Toilet paper, soap, wipes, personal hygiene items
• Large plastic garbage bags
• Change of clothes, gloves, sturdy shoes, rain gear
• Blankets and pillows
• Tools (including rope, duct tape, tarp)
• Unscented bleach
• Supplies for those with special needs (infants, children, seniors and pets)
• Important documents (driver’s license, birth certificate, insurance papers, medical re- cords)
• Keys (home, vehicle, boat)
For more information on Hurricane Preparedness, visit the City of Marco Island’s website at www.cityofmarcoisland. com
Pet Disaster Plans
Submitted by The Humane Society of the United States
The Humane Society of the United States urges residents in East Coast and Gulf Coast states to keep their pets in mind in preparation for a natural disaster. People can take some simple – but critical – steps to keep their pets safe and healthy in severe weather and possible evacuations. More than 35 million people, many of them pet owners, live in areas threatened by Atlantic hurricanes.
“More than 60 percent of American households have pets, and weathering a major storm requires an evacuation plan that includes our animals,” said Niki Dawson, director of disaster services for The Humane Society of the United States. “If it isn’t safe for you, it isn’t safe for them. If you are ordered to shelter-in-place and not evacuate, bring your pets inside with you and make sure you have adequate supplies.”
The Humane Society of the United States Animal Rescue Team has a fully equipped response team to assist communities impacted by a natural disaster. In 2011, The HSUS responded to natural disasters in North Carolina, Vermont, Mississippi, Missouri, Alabama, and North Dakota, helping to care for more than 2,000 displaced animals.
AccuWeather forecasters predict an average hurricane season from June to November. Pet owners can reduce their animals’ chances of being at risk during a disaster by following the suggestions below.
Things you can do right now:
1. Put a collar with visible identification on your pets, including indoor-only pets.
2. Keep pictures of your pets on hand for identification purposes. Ideally, you should also be in the photo.
3. Create a pet emergency kit (see below) and refresh the items every few months.
4. Talk to your neighbors about how they can help your pets if you are not at home when disaster strikes.
5. Create a list of hotels that allow pets. Plan on evacuating about 100 miles inland.
6. Pet emergency kits should include:
• Minimum of a three-day supply of food in airtight, waterproof containers, and drinking water.
• Bowls for food and water.
• Current photos and physical description of your pets, including details on markings.
• Medications, vaccination records and first aid pet supplies.
• Comfort items such as a toy and blanket.
• Small garbage bags.
• For dogs include: leash, harness and a sturdy carrier large enough to use as a sleeping area.
• For cats include: litter and litter box and a sturdy carrier large enough for transport and for your cat to use as a temporary “apartment” for several days.
A Zogby International poll after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast found that 61 percent of pet owners will not evacuate if they cannot bring their pets with them. In 2006, Congress addressed this issue by passing the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act, which requires state and local emergency management agencies to make plans that take into account the needs of individuals with pets and service animals in the event of a major disaster or emergency. It is crucial that all pet owners reach out to their local government to understand their community’s existing human and pet evacuation plans.
Livestock Owners Disaster Plans
Submitted by The Humane Society of the United States
Disaster preparedness is important for all animals, but it’s particularly important for livestock because of their size and special shelter and transport requirements.
You don’t have to live in a floodplain, near an earthquake fault line, or in a coastal area to be affected—disasters can happen anywhere at any time. It’s imperative that you be prepared.
• Make a disaster plan to protect your property, facilities, and animals. Create an emergency telephone number list, including your employees, neighbors, veterinarian, poison control office, local animal shelter, animal care and control office, county extension service, local agricultural schools, trailering resources, and local volunteers. Include a contact outside the disaster area. Give family members and employees copies.
• Make sure every animal has durable and visible identification.
• Reinforce your house, barn, and outbuildings with hurricane straps. Perform regular safety checks on all utilities, buildings, and facilities.
• Remove all barbed wire, and consider rerouting permanent fencing so that animals can move to high ground in a flood and to low-lying areas in high winds.
• Install a hand pump and obtain enough large containers to water your animals for at least a week in the event of municipal water supply contamination.