This palm tree was downed by Hurricane Irma and damaged the Blessed Sacrament Chapel of San Marco Parish on Marco Island. The parish church received roof and water damage but was spared the storm surge.

2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season begins June 1

Venice | June 1 is rapidly approaching and that means it is time to start seriously thinking about the 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.

Forecasters are expecting a busier-than-normal season, with an expected 14 named storms, with seven of those potentially becoming hurricanes. The forecast does not note if any of the storms will strike Florida, but is intended for planning purposes and to raise awareness. Of course, it is important to note that as the region learned in 2017, it only takes one storm to strike to have a very bad hurricane season.

While keeping a wary eye on the weather forecast is important, being prepared before a hurricane approaches is just as vital. Preparedness means many things, but a key part is simply knowing where you live in relationship to evacuation zones in your city or county. Also, knowing how well constructed your home is can also impact your preparations and planning in the event an evacuation is ordered.

Before a storm threatens, every family should have a disaster supply kit ready to go. Hurricane Irma is fresh in the minds of everyone because the storm spread devastation and misery across large portions of the Diocese. Do not forget the problems many had in getting basic supplies in the aftermath.

The Florida Department of Emergency Management recommends each disaster supply kit have enough water and food to last three to seven days. That means one gallon of water per person, per day, plus enough nonperishable food that does not require electricity to prepare and consume safely.

Those who care for infants or the elderly also need to think about what specialty items will be needed.
Other items for a kit include clothing (rain gear and sturdy shoes), blankets and pillows, first-aid kit, medicines and prescription drugs, toiletries, flashlights, battery-operated radio, cash, documents in a waterproof container, and any items for your pets.

Large swaths of the Diocese remained without power for days and some for more than two weeks after Hurricane Irma. The Federal Emergency Management Agency stresses that in the aftermath of a major disaster, residents should expect to be on their own for at least three days, if not longer, before substantial state and federal resources can be expected.

To help encourage residents to buy their emergency supplies now, the annual Florida Hurricane Preparedness Tax-Free Weekend is June 1-3. This means many key supplies are tax free, including batteries, generators and much more.

If you have a disaster supply kit that went unused in 2017, go through it to ensure all items are fresh and the batteries are still good. Anyone who has medical or transportation issues should contact their city/county Emergency Management Office (the number is in the blue pages of the phone book), to register and to potentially be relocated if a storm threatens.

Another key action is to make sure your insurance is up to date and photographs are taken of all valuables before the storm. Keep in mind that hurricane and flood insurance can take up to 30 days to go into effect, meaning buying insurance now will mean it could take until July, a month into the season, before the policy can be used.

Should you decided to evacuate, it is recommended to have multiple routes planned because, as many learned ahead of Irma, traffic will be a problem. This could mean leaving early or simply not going as far, but it is important to plan where you are going ahead of time. Officials discourage travelling out of state to avoid a hurricane, but instead recommend going to the home of a friend/family member who lives out of the path of predicted storm surge and the most dangerous winds, and then only if you are ordered to evacuate or do not feel your home is safe enough.

For a complete list of how to plan and prepare for a disaster, visit
prepare. Check the June 8 issue of the Florida Catholic to learn about how the Diocese of Venice continues to recover from Hurricane Irma, and what you can do to help those who struggle to rebuild their lives.