Hurricanes are a fact of life down here in Florida. As such, we wanted to post some helpful resources and checklists that may help you feel a little more prepared this coming hurricane season, which usually runs from June 1st through November but has started early for the last 4 years.
Link to .PDF of checklist here:
Am I in a Flood Zone?
You can use FEMA’s website to search for your exact property here: FEMA’s National Flood Hazard Layer (Official) .
The key to read the maps can be a bit confusing but pretty much the important things to look for are Floodway Zones (where flooding will occur first), AE Zones (pretty much the next areas to flood in the case of a 100-year flood AKA 1% flood event), and X Zones
(the third level where flooding could occur- AKA 500-year flood event
AKA .2% flood event- but don’t let the name fool you because they are
happening much more frequently than you may think).
Hurricane Harvey’s rainfall flooded Zone X sections of Houston, which why I also recommend paying attention to the topographical mapping option that is available on FEMA’s mapping tool (highlighted in orange). You can use it to find local high ground which is pretty difficult to find in Florida.
What About Wind Damage?
Central Florida does not see many tornadoes in a given year- But, ahead of most major hurricanes (on the NE quadrant) is an environment conducive to smaller, yet still destructive, tornadoes so we are not free from their risks. In addition, we also can see from the above FEMA wind zone map above (see original here) that we are at risk for gusts of high intensity winds that can sling debris.
Hillsborough residents can learn about whether or not they are in an evacuation zone by visiting the county’s website here and clicking on “Find Your Evacuation Zone (HEAT).” Hurricane shelters are listed right on it for easy planning. Also, they have a printable in .pdf form with a smallish map but useful key here.
If you are in a evacuation zone- pretty much most major roadways are designated as evacuation routes. Ready.gov suggests that you think of where you might be able to go, have a fueled up car complete with go-bag of medical and general necessities, and make sure that your destination can accept your pets.
Go-Bag Basics: (Source: Ready.gov)
- Water – one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
- Food – at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
- First aid kit
- Extra batteries
- Whistle to signal for help
- Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- Manual can opener for food
- Local maps
- Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery
Home Hurricane Checklist (Source: Security First Insurance):
- Board your windows (Jessa and I are planning to use Plylox Hurricane Window Clips if Irma swings our way)
- Fill vehicle gas tanks (and spares)
- Move furniture away from windows and try to get anything toxic (oil, pesticides, etc) up from the ground just in case it does flood
- Remove loose outdoor items
- Trim dead tree branches
- (We also read about turning off any gas lines connected to tanks by your house)
- Extra cash
- Sturdy shoes
- Battery powered radio and NOAA weather radio (we personally recommend a hand crankable one)
- cell phone and charger (we also personally recommend a solar powered charger in case your generator fails or you don’t have one)
- Fire extinguisher
- Flashlight (check your batteries)
- Backup cooking supplies in case your oven goes out (grilling supplies, portable ovens and fuel, etc)
- your keys
- Manual can opener
- And your important documents stored in a waterproof container:
- birth certificate; marriage certificate; driver’s license and social security card; home inventory list; insurance policies; medical records; financial agreements; wills, deeds, and copies of recent tax returns
Livestock Checklist (Sources: IFAS- Conner; House & Zimmer):
- Adhesive tape and duct tape
- Leg wraps
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Latex Gloves
- Bandage Materials (roll cotton, gauze pads, cling wrap, sheet cotton, etc.)
- Antiseptics (Chlorahexidine, Betadine solution)
- Wound dressing/ topical antibiotic
- Hoof pick and knife
- Phenylbutazone (Bute) and/or Banamine®
- Bottles of Sterile saline
- PVC pipe for splinting
- Halters and lead ropes
- Fly spray
- Clean towels
- Make sure your horses and livestock are properly vaccinated and stock up on hay/feed (and put all of that in a hard-to-flood area.
- Get in touch with your neighbors and build a network of support for each other
- ID your horse with either livestock tag (braided into mane), microchip, horse-appropriate neck strap, fetlock bands, or other weather-resistant method
- Take a picture of your horse (better with you in it) and attach to your Coggins documents and store all of it in a dry place (and in your email)
- Don’t tie up your animals (US News Report). They will be defenseless against flying/floating debris, will be limited in what they can eat, and may drown being stuck in one spot if you do. Additionally, Veterinarians at IFAS write that horses may be better off loose rather than stuck in a barn which may collapse.
Lastly, Keep a Weathered Eye on the Horizon…
Mike’s Weather Page has a huge following on Facebook and is very active with questions and answers. We posted up a question and had tens of answers within half-an-hour. Very Awesome.
All in all, this is a rough grouping of resources that Central Florida people may find helpful in prepping for possible hurricane threats. We are not professional disaster managers but Marc did study some of its principles back in undergrad and wanted to make a little how-to on gathering relevant knowledge. We hope this helps (and that we don’t have to use any of this info).
- Conner, S. 2017. Hurricane Preparedness for Horses and Livestock, Animal Identification
- Erdman, J. 2019. Hurricane Season Has Started Early Four Years in a Row. Is That Unusual?
- FEMA Flood Map Service Center
- FEMA’s National Flood Hazard Layer (Official)
- FloridaHorse.com- Hurricane Preparedness for Horse Owners
- Hillsborough County- Find Evacuation Information
- House, A.M., DVM, DACVIM and Zimmel, D.N., DVM, DACVIM, DABVP. 2017. “IFAS Memo”
- IFAS- Hurricane Preparedness for Horse Owners
- NOAA- Hurricane Irma
- Ready.gov- Build a Kit
- Security First Insurance Hurricane Preparedness Checklist
- Weather Channel- Hurricane News
- Wunderground- Hurricane Irma