With Hurricane Irma strengthening into a category 5 on its path to the islands, Floridians are starting to get prepared. Cocoa Beach took damage from Hurricane Matthew last year but has never faced a hurricane with the potential of Irma. Last time Cocoa Beach had to really brace itself was 2004 when four hurricanes hit within six weeks and their destruction stacked onto our coast.
Although the true path of Irma is still to be determined, it is important to have a hurricane plan ready to put into action.
Stay or go?
Most Cocoa Beach locals can list off hurricanes they stayed through, and even more, will tell you how they’ll never leave for a storm. These people have their own reasons and take their own precautions.
Deciding to evacuate to a shelter or an area outside the storm’s impact can be the best plan for some. Some factors that influence people to go:
- Location of their homes and condition. Homes near beaches and rivers, in flood zones, or surrounded by trees and other debris. People on the first floor of apartment complexes may be worried about flooding. Others with bad roofs or windows may seek shelter elsewhere as well.
- Those with small children or with loved ones who need medical attention may want to evacuate to avoid losing power and having access to necessary equipment or medications. During hurricanes, the power will most likely go out for a period of time, and access to stores will not be possible.
- The strength of the storm. Depending on how much damage could be caused by the hurricane, and if you feel like you will be in danger, then the safe move would be to evacuate.
Plan of Action
Once you have decided whether you’re staying or evacuating, there are many other things you should do to get ready. Many of them are the same regardless if you are leaving or not.
- Stock up on water, canned food, and nonperishable foods. If you are staying, you will need to make sure you have enough food and water to last through the storm and afterward when the power may be off, and stores may still not be open. Water will be even more important in case water lines are affected. Then the water you purchased will be used to clean yourself, clean up small messes, to cook with, and to drink. A good cooler and a supply of ice will also come in handy for preserving food.
- Batteries, gas, propane, flashlights, candles, matches, and charcoal will all be nice to have on hand. If the power is out for an extended amount of time, these will be necessities. You will want to be careful with the charcoal and not try and light a grill inside without proper ventilation. This would be more for after the storm when the electric stove is still without power and you’d like a hot meal. Gas will also be important if you plan on having a generator.
- Boarding up windows with plywood, taping windows to prevent glass shattering everywhere, and sandbags in front of doors and garages are all great ideas to prepare your home. Sealing cracks in walls or windows, moving fragile items off shelves where they could fall, and moving items that could be affected by rain will help take some stress and damage away from your home.
- Local hardware stores and supercenter department will be your best locations to pick up these items.
- The earlier you begin gathering these items is best. If you wait until the last moment then these items may not be available.
- Clean up loose branches and other debris in your yard. Bring inside plants and lawn ornaments. Secure lawn furniture as well.
- Have a plan for your animals. If you are planning on leaving, make sure you will be able to take them where you are going. If the hotel you are evacuating to does not take animals, and it is your only option, find a shelter or family member that will take them in for the duration of the storm. There are evacuation shelters that will allow you to bring your pets as well. If you are staying, make sure you have enough food and water stocked up for them as well. Also, if they are staying with you, mark off an area that will become their bathroom area since outside walks will not be possible during the storm. If you stay, a shelter for your animal may still be your safest resource.
It’s important to be prepared and be safe during hurricanes!