Be prepared for storm, hurricane season in Southwest Florida

Reporter: Breana Ross
Published: Updated:
Evacuation (CREDIT: WINK News)

There are thousands of new neighbors in Lee County and emergency leaders want everyone to have a plan ahead of a tropical storm or hurricane.

A shelter should always be a last resort because Lee County says they don’t have nearly enough shelter space for everyone.

It’s important to know your evacuation zone and have a safe place to go other than a shelter.

Hurricane Irma in 2017 was the last big storm to strike Southwest Florida.

North Fort Myers residents Gloria and David Hitchings remember it vividly.

“We did not want to experience it. They said evacuate, so we did,” Gloria said. “We just do what we’re told.”

A lot has changed since Irma, starting with the number of people in Lee County.

“Since that time, we have had an influx of residents, we’ve had about 100,000 people that have moved to the area. So now more than ever, we’re encouraging people to have a good plan in place,” said Lee County Director of Public Safety Sandra Tapfumaneyi.

That means planning where you will of and where you will stay when you have to leave,

“We only have 20 facilities that can be utilized as shelters, which gives us approximately 30,000 spaces and when you think about the large population of Lee County, we don’t have room to house everybody. So so we really do want those spots to go to people that do not have any other opportunity, don’t have friends or family outside of the evacuation area, and they’re not able to get out of the evacuation zone,” Tapfumaneyi said.

The Hitchings said that definitely won’t be them. They know from experience that planning is key.

“In terms of evacuation, we learned that during Irma, do it early,” David said. “Don’t do it late.”

Be prepared:

To find your evacuation zone, visit here.

For a virtual hurricane preparedness seminar, visit here.

To sign up for Lee County’s emergency notification system, visit here.

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