June 1 - Hurricane season officially begins today, but unofficially, it kicked off earlier with two named storms developing in the past two weeks. The season runs through the end of November and Santa Rosa County wants residents to be especially prepared this year."The first 72 is on you" has been the public safety message for many years, but this year, with an ongoing pandemic potentially impacting supply chains, officials recommend residents plan to have all the supplies needed to sustain a household for seven days. Florida’s sales tax holiday continues through Thurs., June 4, so now is the time to check and replenish supplies.In the event of a tropical storm or hurricane, evacuations could be called for residents in evacuation zones or mobile homes. It’s important to check now to see if you live in an evacuation zone and make a plan for where you will go if told to evacuate. Santa Rosa County’s interactive Know Your Zone Map is searchable by address and will also show if any evacuations have been ordered or recommended. It’s also important to check the evacuation zones of the streets in your area. If the streets flood, you may be unable to leave until the water recedes and responders may not be able to reach you in an emergency."Now, more than ever, residents of evacuation zones and mobile homes need to make a plan to stay with friends or family in a safer area - and to make sure that plan includes your pets," said Public Safety Director Brad Baker. "We recommend you travel tens of miles from your home rather than hundreds. You do not want to be stuck in traffic when a storm makes landfall." Residents who feel comfortable that their homes are built to sustain the level of wind predicted are encouraged to shelter in place during a storm. While Santa Rosa County has a shelter plan to accommodate residents with social distancing measures in place, shelters are not comfortable places. Those staying in shelters will be required to take precautions against the spread of coronavirus including wearing masks."But don’t let concerns of the pandemic stop you from evacuating if you are told to leave," added Baker. "Storm surge is ultimately more dangerous than the COVID virus."For more information on how to receive emergency updates, make a plan for your family, prepare your home for a disaster including wildfires and tornados as Santa Rosa County has seen in the past two months, visit the online www.santarosa.fl.gov/emergency or call 850-983-INFO for information on where you can pick up a disaster guide.
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