A hurricane is defined as a violent tropical cyclone with a pronounced rotary circulation. Winds are at least 74 mph (64 knots) spiraling counter-clockwise around a calm center known as an "eye." Hurricanes are classified by form and intensity.
These storms are the most common disaster threat for Florida, with an annual posted hurricane season (June 1 through Nov. 30). They can cause coastal and inland hazards. Coastal hazards can include high tides and flash floods caused by storm surges. Continuous rainfall and run-off from high ground areas causing flooding in low-lying areas are examples of inland hazards. In addition, inland areas on high ground normally experience damage from winds and wind-blown debris. Hurricanes can spawn tornadoes, adding to the potential for devastation. These hazards may disrupt transportation systems, gas, fresh water supplies and electricity.
The actions you take to prepare yourself and your home from hurricanes will serve you well in dealing with the other types of emergencies referenced in this guide. Securing the windows and doors of your home, bracing the roof and garage doors, having a disaster supply kit, using the safe-room concept, planning for your health and welfare, and providing for the security of valuables and important documents will ensure an easier recovery for you and your family.
All bridges will be locked down when winds reach a sustained speed of 39 miles per hour or a land evacuation is ordered. Before a complete lockdown, drawbridges will be raised on the hour for 15 minutes when boat traffic is present.
Hurricane season begins June 1. With many days of rainfall in May, residents are encouraged to make sure they are prepared for a potential land-falling tropical storm or hurricane. Volusia County experienced a second hurricane in less than a year when Hurricane Irma struck Sept. 10. More than 4,800 homes, businesses and government facilities were impacted at a time when many people were still recovering from Hurricane Matthew.
Residents are encouraged to:
Download Volusia County’s emergency preparedness app. The app includes weather alerts and current conditions, preparedness checklists, links to county sites, shelter status, locations of the nearest open shelter and sandbags, evacuation information, push notifications and more. The app also aids in the damage assessment process as residents can submit damage reports along with picture documentation. The app is available for download in the Google Play store and the App Store.
Create a family preparedness plan, which the app can help you do as it has a checklist of items you’ll need during an emergency. For help creating a personalized family disaster plan, visit www.floridadisaster.org.
Decide now where you will stay if an evacuation order is issued during a hurricane. Arrange to stay with friends or relatives who live well inland if possible. You will be more comfortable there than in a shelter. For those who have no alternatives, Volusia County will set up hurricane shelters at key locations across the county. Again, these shelter locations will be viewable from the emergency preparedness app when they are opened.
Consider purchasing flood insurance, which is typically not covered under a homeowners insurance policy. According to officials, it takes 30 days after purchase for a flood insurance policy to take effect. Also, if a hurricane is within 500 miles of Florida, flood insurance policies will not be written. To learn about flood insurance, www.visit floodsmart.gov. The website can help you rate your risk, estimate premiums and find an agent.
For more information about disaster preparedness, visit www.volusia.org/emergency or call Volusia County Emergency Management at 386-254-1500. Residents should also follow Volusia County Emergency Management on Facebook and Twitter.