As of June 1st, Hurricane Season has blown back into town as quickly as it left last November.
Floridians know as well as anyone how unpredictable hurricanes can be and how abruptly their paths can shift. If there is one thing Hurricane Irma taught us, it is to be prepared.
First and foremost, you must know in what evacuation zone you reside. Evacuation zones are based on several factors, including ground elevation and vulnerability to storm surge.
During a potential disaster, emergency management and public safety officials are in constant communication with each other and other agencies, like the National Weather Service, to ensure we are as educated as possible before making decisions about what areas should evacuate and when. But if citizens don’t know that they are required to leave, they won’t.
Learn your evacuation zone by typing your address into the map at www.pinellascounty.org/knowyourzone or by calling the Pinellas County Interactive Hurricane Evacuation Inquiry Line, 727-453-3150, and entering the landline associated with the location in question.
If you live in a barrier island community, make sure you are registered for and know where you’ve placed your emergency access permit. When a mandatory evacuation order is lifted, law enforcement officials will scan emergency access permits at designated re-entry points.
Barrier island residents may register directly with their city government during its general office hours year round, so don’t wait until an evacuation order has been issued to secure yours.
If you registered for and still possess your emergency access permit from years prior, you DO NOT need to register again. If you don’t know if you need a permit, visit www.pcsoweb.com/emergency-access-permit or call the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office non-emergency line at 727-582-6200.
Just as you should have an escape plan in case of a fire, it is important you plan ahead for what you should do in case of a hurricane. Again, don’t wait until the last minute.
If you plan to stay at your residence, create a hurricane survival kit with plenty of bottled water, canned or dry foods that won’t go bad, a battery-powered radio, candles, basic first-aid items, vital medications, etc. Visit www.pinellascounty.org for a list of suggested hurricane survival kit items.
If you plan to evacuate, we highly recommend staying with friends or relatives or in a hotel if possible. However, if you have no alternate accommodations, Pinellas County has 34 potential emergency shelters. A few of these shelters are specifically designated for citizens with special needs but are limited to basic medical monitoring and back-up electricity for lighting. If you know that you and your family would need transport assistance to any Pinellas County shelter, register ahead of time to ensure you receive it. Register online at www.pinellascounty.org/specialneeds.
For a full list of shelters, visit Pinellas County Government’s website. Keep in mind that not all shelters will open for every evacuation, so check www.pinellascounty.org/emergency or call the Citizen Information Center at 727-464-4333 to learn which are open.
Finally, stay connected. Leading up to a potential hurricane or other emergency, it is our top priority to keep citizens informed so that we can all get through it together and as efficiently as possible. Follow the Sheriff’s Office and Pinellas County Government on Facebook and Twitter and look for “#GetReadyPinellas” for posts including preparation tips, situation-specific details, evacuation orders, etc. Also, download the free “Ready Pinellas” app in the App Store or Google Play to receive updates as they are issued.
Keeping citizens safe is EVERYONE’s responsibility. We might not know when and where the next disaster will strike, but with proper preparation and open communication, we can be ready for it.
Non Emergency Line: (727) 582-6200 | In an Emergency call 911ADA info