Sheriff Bill Prummell authored this community letter for the 2019 Wink Hurricane Guide
You can check out the full edition by clicking here.
In law enforcement, we frequently train for emergency scenarios so we are better prepared and equipped to respond to the scenario in real life. Applying this same mindset of preparation to your hurricane season planning can lessen the feelings of panic and stress frequently faced when trying to make decisions about family and other loved ones during a crisis. In addition to weather dangers, early preparation and planning can thwart the efforts of criminals who seize these moments of opportunity to prey on areas affected by the storm.
It is never too early to begin developing a safety plan for you and your household. Becoming familiar with your evacuation zone is key to understanding messages from your local emergency management team as a storm is arriving. During Hurricane Irma, sheltering in place was recommended for much of Charlotte County. Sheltering in your home requires having a supply of food, water, and most importantly medications needed by members of your household throughout the storm event. If you are instructed to evacuate your residence, please do so. When it becomes unsafe to respond during the storm, emergency vehicles will be unable to reach you until after the storm has passed.
As you plan for the possibility of evacuation, consider how you will secure your residence during the storm. Using shutters that have the ability to lock can prevent thieves from entering your residence before you return. Secure belongings inside a shed or garage, not an outdoor carport or patio. Following Hurricane Irma, a countywide curfew was issued until power was restored to enough of the county to ensure neighborhoods would not fall victim to looters. While the curfew helps prevent some crimes of opportunity, residents who did not evacuate should call law enforcement to report any suspicious activity or people in their neighborhood.
Communication is an important piece of surviving a storm event. Take some time during your storm preparation to make sure you are able to receive communications from your local Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and Sheriff’s Office. Several of our Sheriff’s Offices in Southwest Florida now have mobile applications, allowing you to receive notifications via Wi-Fi if there is a lack of cellular service in the area. In Charlotte County, you can also sign up for Alert Charlotte for text and phone call notifications from the EOC (other counties use similar services). If we can’t reach you, we can’t alert you!
I encourage you to take time to review this publication and use it as a reference during your storm preparation. While we hope for a mild season, we must prepare for all possibilities. Remember to start early, create a plan, and maintain open lines of communication with emergency personnel.
Sheriff Bill Prummell