rick-scott_web.jpgScott urges Floridians: Be prepared                       
MIAMI — On Thursday, Gov. Rick Scott called on Florida families to “Get A Plan!” and visit FloridaDisaster.org for tips on how to prepare and keep loved ones safe should a hurricane strike the Sunshine State.

During a press conference held May 30 at the Miami-Dade Emergency Operations Center in advance of the June 1 start of hurricane season, Scott was joined by and Sam Tidwell, Greater Miami and the Keys regional chief executive officer of  the American Red Cross, as well as Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez, county commissioners, Adjutant General of the Florida National Guard Maj. Gen. Emmett R. Titshaw Jr., Director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management Bryan Koon.

“Last year was predicted to be a slow season,” Scott said, “but with three weather events impacting Florida, as well as the landfall of Hurricane Sandy, we saw firsthand how one storm can significantly alter a community.” Last year also marked the 20th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew, he noted, “a hurricane that devastated many Florida communities and changed the way we prepare and respond to a disaster.”

AAA: 1 in 6 would ignore warnings
TAMPA  — The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting another active season with 13 to 20 named storms, seven to 11 hurricanes and three to six major hurricanes.

A recent survey shows the strength of the storm has a large impact on whether residents would want to evacuate their home. This year, more than half (51 percent) of residents in the southeast will prepare for hurricane season, according to a recent AAA  survey.

The majority (55 percent), say they would evacuate if the storm was a category three or greater. Still, 16 percent of respondents say they would not want to leave their home at all.

AAA recommends following any and all evacuation warnings, as well as making preparations before hurricane season begins, so it’s easier to respond when a storm approaches.

Hurricane preparation includes securing your home, developing a family emergency plan, updating your home inventory, being familiar with your insurance protection, and having the necessary supplies on hand, in case you decide to weather the storm.

Know your evacuation zone
TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) urges all Floridians to “Know Your Zone” in preparation for the start of the 2013 Atlantic Hurricane Season. Knowing your evacuation, storm surge, flood zone, and how storm surge or flooding may affect you is an important part of preparing for hurricane season, FDEM notes, and can lessen the impact a storm may have on you and your family.

Evacuation zones are designated by local emergency management agencies, and give guidance on when certain areas should or are required to evacuate prior to a hurricane making landfall. It is important that residents of coastal counties know their evacuation zone, as well as the route they should take should they need to evacuate.

Storm surge zones and flood zones show officials and residents how certain amounts of storm surge or flood waters may affect coastal or low-lying areas. Storm surge is extreme coastal flooding that can penetrate several miles inland. Storm surge and flooding are two of the most dangerous impacts of a tropical system and all Floridians should be prepared for possible effects to themselves and their communities.

Floridians can find their local evacuation, storm surge and flood maps on the public mapping page of floridadisaster.org. Maps are also available via the Division’s geospatial mapping tool, GATOR, at floridadisaster.org/GATOR. Follow on Twitter at @FLSERT, at Facebook.com/FloridaSERT and Facebook.com/KidsGetAPlan

DCF: Emergency food effort ready                  
Tallahassee — To prepare to meet the needs of Floridians this hurricane season, the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) reports it has successfully completed a two-day test of the department’s Food for Florida program. About 100 DCF employees participated in a mock disaster exercise in Tallahassee last month  to test equipment and processes used in the aftermath of a disaster.

The Food for Florida program offers emergency food benefits to victims of hurricanes or other types of disasters.  The last time DCF activated the program was in 2005, when Hurricane Wilma struck Florida.  Since then, the department has streamlined the application and preregistration process using satellite and other wireless technologies.  

The changes have positioned DCF to better serve disaster stricken Floridians and spot people trying to use the tragedy to rip off taxpayers, officials said. For more information about the Food for Florida program and to sign up for emergency food assistance alerts, visit dcf.state.fl.us/programs/access/fff