LAKEWOOD RANCH, Fla. (WWSB) -June 1st marks the start of hurricane season and it’s important to be prepared.
One way to prepare yourself for this hurricane season is to learn from past mistakes. Lakewood Ranch Community Emergency Response Team’s President, Victor Kline, said a lot of people learned not to wait until the last minute to evacuate from Hurricane Irma.
Kline said just two days before the hurricane hit all of the hotels in Manatee County were full from people who evacuated from other parts of the state. Because there were no hotels in the area to stay, some people had to hit the road. But driving on the roads last minute isn't always a good idea.
"Those people who started to evacuate 24 hours out ahead of Irma found that I-75 was bumper to bumper. Gas stations were out of fuel on the route that they were taking. And you don't want to find yourself on Interstate 75 when a hurricane comes through," said Kline.
Kline recommends residents have a plan with their family ahead of time. Discuss important things like when to leave and where to, make reservations as soon as possible, and plan out what important items you need to take with you like documents or medications.
As for people who stayed, some learned that they weren’t prepared enough. It’s important to have your house properly boarded up with things like hurricane shutters and windows.
Residents should also have enough water and food to last them for at least a week. That was a struggle for some people because days before Hurricane Irma hit, many grocery stores were cleaned out of those essential items. It's also important to consider what you will do after the storm hits.
"How long can you go without fresh water? Several of the water treatment facilities in our area. In Sarasota and Manatee County were flooded out after Hurricane Irma. And the water supply was contaminated and there was a boil water notice.," Kline said.
Kline also reminds people to not wait until the last minute to make plans to go to a shelter.