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Being prepared key for storm safety

September 5, 2017
Jessica Salmond - News Editor ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency Monday for all 67 Florida counties in preparation of Hurricane Irma.

As of Tuesday morning, the storm was upgraded to a category 5 hurricane and was located in the Caribbean, according to the National Weather Service (NWS). The storm is forecasted to hit Puerto Rico Wednesday and Thursday, and continue traveling west and north for several days. The exact path of the hurricane has not been determined, as it is difficult to make predictions more than three days out. Tropical force winds could hit Florida by Friday night or Saturday morning, according to NWS predictions. The center of the storm could follow.

"Hurricane Irma is a major and life-threatening storm and Florida must be prepared. I have continued to be briefed by the Florida Division of Emergency Management on Hurricane Irma and current forecast models have Florida in Irma's path potentially impacting millions of Floridians," Scott said in a press release Monday. "In Florida, we always prepare for the worst and hope for the best and while the exact path of Irma is not absolutely known at this time, we cannot afford to not be prepared."

IN the 2017 Lee County Hurricane Preparedness Guide, Fort Myers Beach Fire District division chief Randy Kraus said the key to beach residents being ready for a storm. Families and businesses alike should prepare not only a hurricane kit, but a hurricane plan.

When Lee County is in the cone of uncertainty, a time period several days before a hurricane hits, is when residents need to mobilize. Safety Division Chief Ron Martin said this is the time to start securing your home or business by tying down any potential air-born objects such as patio furniture or propane tanks. Grabbing cash from the ATM is one thing many people forget about, Martin said. If a storm hits, ATMs and debit and credit card machines could be down for days. It's also the time to check your medications and get refills.

The most important thing?

Fact Box

Staying alert

One of the most important things you can do is stay tuned to news and updates about the storm.

Listen to the National Weather Service on your NOAA radio. Fort Myers' frequency is 162.475 with call sign WXK83.

Follow Lee County Emergency Management on Facebook or Twitter at @LCEMFL

Download CodeRed and LeeAlert. Both apps are free. CodeRed can help alert you to emergencies and critical protective actions via phone, text or email. LeeAlert includes information about evacuation zones, open shelters, local weather and other important information.

"If you are told to evacuate you need to leave," Kraus said.

Having a hurricane kit ready to go is important. You should be prepared to survive for several days from this kit, as local emergency services or the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) may not be able to access you immediately. The kit should include water and non-perishable food supplies for every person and animal; prescription medications; batteries and flashlights; and many other essentials. For a full list, visit

Lee County has several emergency shelters. It is important to listen to the radio to find out which ones are open. The South Fort Myers High School is the only pet-friendly shelter and is first-come, first- served. Owners are responsible for caring for their pets and need to bring all supplies as well as up-to-date vaccination records if checking into this shelter.

For residents with special needs, the county has Special Care shelters for those whose health could deteriorate rapidly in a public shelter. It's free to stay at the Special Care shelter, however, pre-registration is required. Applications are available at and can be submitted online. When Lee County enters the 5-day forecast zone, applications are no longer processed as the county prepares for an evacuation.

If Fort Myers Beach residents have to evacuate, do not forget your re-entry pass. All residents with a purple pass are valid for 2017's hurricane season. All businesses should have a yellow pass for the 2017 hurricane season.

The Town of Fort Myers Beach will hold a special meeting Wednesday morning, 9 a.m., at Town Hall to discuss the inclement weather.



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