A potential major hurricane has its eye set on Florida this weekend and into the middle of next week. Hurricane Dorian wasn’t expected to get this big or this strong when it formed in the Central Atlantic Ocean, but it is now projected to be a category 4 at landfall.
On Aug. 28, Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency in 26 Florida counties to ensure that state and local governments had the time, resources and flexibility to prepare. On Aug. 29, he extended the declaration to all Florida counties.
“Due to Hurricane Dorian’s uncertain projected path, I am expanding the state of emergency to include all 67 counties throughout Florida,” said Governor DeSantis. “All residents, especially those along the east coast, need to be prepared for possible impacts. As it increases strength, this storm has the potential to severely damage homes, businesses and buildings, which is why all Floridians should remain vigilant. Do not wait until it is too late to make a plan.”
Now is the time for you to prepare your home, review your hurricane plan and ensure you have all of the essential items in your hurricane supply kit. Here are some tips for finalizing your hurricane plans.
Evacuation for Hurricane Dorian
If you’re ordered to evacuate, don’t waste time. The sooner you leave, the safer you’ll be. It might be wise to leave before the order if you can sense it coming.
Before the evacuation order, map a route. Unfortunately, Florida only has a few major highways that allow for evacuation to the north, and those will be crowded.
Fill up your gas tank.
Contact your bank and let them know you will be out of the area. This will help prevent the bank from shutting down your bank cards during an emergency.
Hotels will be crowded, so plan to make many calls for availability. If possible, stay with friends or relatives if you can.
You can go to a shelter as a last resort. They will be crowded and uncomfortable and should be used only by people who have nowhere else to go. You will probably not be able to bring your pets. You should take your emergency kit with you to the shelter, since it will probably not be able to provide anything more than a roof over your head.
What to pack:
- Pack essentials like undergarments and socks in a plastic bag so they stay dry
- Some food and water for the road
- Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery
- Prescription and nonprescription medications (like pain relievers)
- Diaper bag for baby
- Toys and books for children
- Pets and their supplies (food and water for three to seven days, leashes, harnesses)
- Important documents, copies of insurance policies, ID cards (in a plastic bag)
- Flashlights with extra batteries
- First-aid kit
- Local maps
If You’re Staying Put for Hurricane Dorian
If you’re not ordered to evacuate and you decide to stay in your home, you should still be prepared for the worst. Prepare to lose power and running water. Have adequate supplies for several days if not a week. And know that roads may be flooded or blocked, so if you decide not to leave you probably won’t be able to change your mind.
Ways to prepare your home
The best advice on how to prepare your home will come from people who have lived in Florida for more than a decade. The state has been through storms like Wilma in 2005 and Irma in 2017. Since many people will be unfamiliar with how to prepare, seeking advice from those who have been through it is most effective.
- Trim damaged trees or branches so they’re less likely to fall during the storm.
- Secure all gutters and downspouts and clear them out to prevent home flooding.
- Board up your windows if you’re close to the coast.
You can use a portable generator for power should you lose electricity, but never turn on the generator indoors and never plug a generator into a wall outlet. Don’t run it in the rain or in flooding. You can prevent the generator from getting rained on with a makeshift canopy.
- Cover your air conditioning unit so debris does not damage it.
- Bring your lawn furniture inside.
- Reinforce or double secure your garage door.
Household Stockup Checklist
You may already have these items. Make sure they are easily accessible.
- Water — at least 1 gallon daily per person for three to seven days
- Food — at least enough for three to seven days (nonperishable packaged or canned food and juices)
- Food for infants or the elderly
- Snack foods
- Paper plates and plastic utensils
- Fill your car with gas
- Pet care items
- Proper identification, immunization records and medications
- Blankets, pillows, etc.
- First-aid kit, medicines and prescription drugs
- Special items for babies and the elderly
- Toiletries, hygiene items and moisture wipes
- Fully charged cell phone with extra battery or a traditional (not cordless) telephone set
- Cash (with some small bills)
- Toys, books and games for the kids
- Important documents (birth certificates, medical records, Social Security card, insurance policy, etc.) in a
- Waterproof container or watertight, resealable plastic bag
Potential Impact Timing for Hurricane Dorian
It’s important to note that Hurricane Dorian has been an incredibly unpredictable storm up to this point. This impact timeline could change, as it has the past several days due to the slowing of the storm over warm waters. Please continue to follow the National Hurricane Center for the most recent updates and listen to the advice of your local emergency manager regarding precautions and evacuations.
You will start to feel the effects of Hurricane Dorian prior to the timeline below, as it will be a large storm upon landfall.
- Bahamas: Sunday and into Monday
- Florida’s East Coast: landfall expected on Tuesday morning
- Central Florida: Wednesday morning