Hurricane Preparedness

Red Cross officials say all families should have an evacuation plan in order, especially if they live in coastal communities, and they're urging families to stock up on non-perishable food and water just in case of the worst.

Tuesday's sunshine doesn't give away the reason emergency management experts are warning the public to keep on their toes. June 1 marks the beginning of hurricane season and it stretches on for the next six months.

Experts say although our area has been spared in recent years, weather patterns show we may be in for more severe hurricanes this season.

Paul Duval, a meteorologist for the National Weather Office, says, "Sea surface temperatures which are warmer in the Atlantic and the Caribbean, atmospheric pressures are lower and the El Nino Southern oscillation in the East Pacific is in a neutral phase now and that tends to allow more tropical storms to develop."

Emergency management officials urge families to put together hurricane kits in their homes and cars, and have an evacuation route in mind.

Chris Floyd, Red Cross Emergency Services Director, says, "If you live along the coastal communities of Franklin County, Wakulla County, Jefferson and Taylor County, plan to evacuate. Move inland and remember storm surge is a big killer during hurricanes."

Emergency workers say the most difficult part of their job is convincing people they need to be prepared and the time to do it is now.

Red Cross volunteers suggest keeping blankets, batteries, and flashlights on hand as well as canned food and bottled water, and make sure your car always has a full tank of gas. Remember, there are over 120 Red Cross shelters across our area, and when a hurricane strikes, the staff at those shelters provide food, comfort and anything else evacuees need.