TheNational Hurricane Center has issued a tropical storm warning for parts of Florida, and the entire area of the Florida Keys stemming from a tropical depression which has formed in the Caribbean. A tropical storm warning means that tropical storm conditions, heavy rain and winds from 39 to 73 mph, are expected somewhere within the warning area in the next 36 hours.
The American Red Cross is making preparations to respond to the storm, and urges people to watch where it is headed and make plans for possible landfall in their community. Trained Red Cross disaster workers are on stand-by, ready to help those affected by the storm. Supplies and emergency response vehicles are in place to move to areas where needed. Chapters are working with state and local governments to ensure shelters will be available.
“The most important thing people can do is prepare now in case their area should be in the path of this storm,” said Joe Becker, senior vice president for Red Cross Disaster Services. “Don’t wait until the last minute. Stay informed and know what to do when a tropical storm warning is issued – safety is top priority.”
Weather experts are keeping an eye on the developing storm, and predict weather conditions will begin to deteriorate around Florida within 24 hours. Strong winds and rain are forecast, with storm surges as high as one to two feet above ground level. The Red Cross offers the following steps people can take to keep themselves and their loved ones safe. Before the storm, you should:
- Check your emergency supplies and replace or restock as needed. Your disaster kit should contain items such as gallons of water, non-perishable, easy-to-prepare food and sanitation and personal hygiene items. More information about what you should include is available on the Red Cross web site.
- Create an evacuation plan with members of your household and practice it to cut down on any confusion.
- Plan routes to your community’s shelters, register family members with special needs as required.
- Make plans for your pets.
- Standard homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flooding. You may need floor insurance. For more information on flood insurance, please visit the National Flood Insurance Program Web site at www.FloodSmart.gov.
If forecasts predict the storm will hit your neighborhood:
- Bring items inside that can be picked up by the wind.
- Turn your refrigerator and freezer to the coldest settings and keep them closed as much as possible so food will last longer if the power goes out.
- Turn off any propane tanks and unplug your small appliances.
- Fill your vehicle’s gas tank.
- Close windows, doors and hurricane shutters. If you don’t have hurricane shutters, close and board up your windows and doors with plywood.
- Listen to local authorities and evacuate if advised to do so. Be careful to avoid flooded roads and washed out bridges.
After the storm:
- Return home only when officials say it is safe.
- Keep away from loose or dangling power lines and report them to the power company.
- Stay out of any building that has water around it.
- Avoid drinking or preparing food with tap water until you’re sure it’s not contaminated.
- Keep your animals under your direct control.
Full details about the steps you can take to stay safe are available on the Red Cross web site.