June 1st marked the first day of the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane season and The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting a busy hurricane season with 13 to 19 named storms including six to 10 hurricanes and three to six major hurricanes, category 3 or more.
Here on the Treasure Coast people know a storm does not have to be a major hurricane to wreak plenty of havoc. Mathew came ashore in 2016 creating lots of anxiety. There was frantic shopping- not the fun kind, long lines at gas stations and headaches galore. September of 2017 brought the massive Irma which nearly swallowed the state and produced more than 20 inches of rain in some areas. Last year, Dorian devastated parts of the Bahamas as a powerful Category 5 and side-swiped the Treasure Coast as a Category 3 storm.
The current situation with COVID19 adds an unwelcome level of complication to dealing with hurricanes, even for the most storm-hardy Floridian.
“As Americans focus their attention on a safe and healthy reopening of our country, it remains critically important that we also remember to make the necessary preparations for the upcoming hurricane season,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.
But those preparations will not come easy. Supply chains are challenged, and federal resources are stretched. Florida emergency managers are considering a wide range of options to work around the virus including the use of hotels for shelters and reaching out to companies like Uber and Lyft as an alternative to putting people on buses.
Another new concern comes from Florida Power and Light as the company warns of possible prolonged power outages due to the pandemic. For Hurricane Irma in 2017, FPL assembled a workforce of 28,000, including workers from 30 states and Canada. According to FPL’s website: Given the current travel restrictions and guidance from health officials, FPL may not be able to put together a restoration workforce of that size, if needed. With a smaller workforce and pandemic safety precautions in place, it could take more time to restore power after a hurricane.
A busy hurricane season, virus spread, social distancing and the prospect of prolonged power outages may make your head swarm, but one thing is clear: now is the time to prepare, early and often. This is not the year to wait a few days or even a week before an approaching storm to begin preparation. Make your plans and assemble your supplies now and don't let your guard down throughout the season. Stay informed and continue preparedness habits and practices throughout the entire season.
Floridadisaster.org/planprepare has all the information you need to start planning now for your family and business including comprehensive guides and supply lists as well as evacuation routes, maps and more.
A Guide to Local, State and National Resources
Important Phone Numbers
St. Lucie County
Emergency Information Line (772) 462-4357
Police SLC (772) 871-5000
Police Ft Pierce (772) 467-6800
Indian River County
Emergency Information Line (772) 567-2129
Police IRC (772) 569-6700
Police Vero (772) 978-4600
Police Sebastian (772) 589-5233
Emergency Information Line (772) 287-1652
Police MC (772) 220-7000
Police Stuart (772) 287-1122
Florida DOT Roadway/Traffic
Information Line: 511
State & County Emergency Management Sites
Traffic and Roadways
Statewide and National
WQCS 88.9 FM
Tips for Visitors
What if you are visiting and a hurricane suddenly becomes an unwelcome part of your vacation plans?
Never go outside or down to the beach during a storm. It’s dangerous and prohibited.
Stay inside until authorities say otherwise.
Familiarize yourself with local evacuation routes and procedures.
Never attempt to drive through standing water.
Stay informed- pay attention to public announcements.
Keep a full tank of gas always.
Keep your cell phone charged.
Stay in communication with relatives at home.