Hurricane Season Kicks Off June 1st; Flagler County Starts Preparedness Plans, Urges Residents to Also Have Plans and Supplies in Place

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Emergency Management Director Jonathon Lord held the annual Hurricane Roundtable at the EOC building, where he and his staff outlined how the county’s emergency management department has prepared and continues to prepare for a potentially busy hurricane season.

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Director Lord kicked off the roundtable by highlighting the official predictions for this year’s hurricane season; which included showing the above average water temps in the Gulf and the Atlantic Ocean. Both the CSU and the NHC (Colorado State University, and National Hurricane Center) both predict a higher than average season currently. Director Lord did state that there are some factors that could lessen potential hurricane development and formation throughout the season, but those factors are not predictable. The Saharan Dust plumes are one of the biggest factors that could impact hurricane development and formation, and we have seen more Saharan Dust than usual, but there is no way to know if that will continue throughout the season. Another factor that Director Lord mentioned, was the increase in volcanic activity in Mexico and Central America. A volcanic eruption in either of those locations would massively impact hurricane formation and development, however there is no real way to know if that increase in activity will cause an eruption or not.

Regardless of the level of activity in the tropics and the Gulf, Flagler County’s Emergency Management Department has already been preparing for potential hurricane impacts. While there is no way to know if Flagler County will experience any hurricane activity, Director Lord stressed the importance of always being prepared for the possibility. The County has been holding meetings with staff and other agencies to ensure all employees are prepared, as well as testing communications equipment and conducting an inventory of disaster supplies.

 

Director Lord also highlighted the different options for shelters in the event of evacuations during hurricane season. Flagler Schools currently utilizes many of the schools in the area as hurricane shelters, in the event of evacuations due to storms; but they are working to expand, with non school shelters, like the community centers and possible even Cattleman’s Hall.

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Last hurricane season was the first year that the County had made changes to the evacuation zones. Previously, there were different zones for different areas, specifically in the area East of I-95. Last year, the County adjusted their evacuation zones to include three categories; Hurricane, Lake and None. There is a large area on the western side of the county near the St. John’s River and different lakes, that is an evacuation zone due to tidal flooding. The area East of I-95 is now one zone, which will make evacuations far less complicated due to not having evacuation zones labeled A, B, C, D. Previously under the old evacuation zones, many Palm Coast residents dealt with confusion due to how the City has set up their neighborhoods. Residents would call in to the county unsure what evacuation zone they were in, because the City of Palm Coast labels their neighborhoods by letter, like the C-Section, which led to confusion when the evacuation zones were also labeled by individual letters. Lord expressed his hope that by simplifying the evacuation zones, it would offer less confusion on the matter in the event of an emergency.

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In addition to this, Director Lord expressed the importance of every resident being prepared ahead of time. Resident’s shouldn’t wait for a storm to form and head Flagler County’s direction; instead Lord urged residents to take advantage of the Tax Free Disaster Preparedness Holiday. The State of Florida holds a tax free event for residents who want to stock up on their supplies in advance. This encourages preparedness before or at the start of hurricane season. There is a long list of items that can be purchased tax free during these specific days, including generators, batteries, so much more. This Tax Holiday lasts from June 1st through June 14th. To find the entire list click here.

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By Krys DeWind

Krys DeWind has been a Flagler County resident since 2016. She is active in her community and is always looking for ways to better it. She has a community first attitude which is one of the central founding ideals of the Flagler County Buzz.

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