The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting an active and above-normal 2021 Atlantic hurricane season and local emergency management officials say you can’t be too prepared.
Ahead of the official start of hurricane season on June 1, the Florida disaster preparedness tax holiday starts Friday and runs through June 6.
“This 10-day tax holiday allows Floridians to prepare for hurricane season while saving money on disaster preparedness items such as flashlights under $40, batteries less than $50, tarps under $100, generators less than $1,000, and more,” said a statement from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office.
David Peaton, assistant director of Emergency Management for Levy County, hopes inland and coastal residents will heed the warnings of a busy season and be prepared.
“Don’t focus on the number of storms,” Peaton said. “It only takes one.”
Peaton said being prepared is a year-round effort and sometimes a small storm can bring the biggest damage during the aftermath.
“Anytime you have a town along the coast you have to worry about storm surge,” Peaton said. “Even for some of the weaker storms.”
As far as the supply list, Peaton said it is key to make sure residents have the essentials they know they are going to need to keep themselves safe.
“We talk about entertainment for kids, but it’s medications, first aid kits, supplies for pets, the elderly, and younger kids such as diapers,” he said.
Peaton said the tax holiday is the best time to invest in a small generator, noting people can save up to $70 on a $1,000 product.
“It’s a great time to get a small portable generator,” Peaton said.
Peaton advises residents to download their local emergency app and pay attention to alerts being delivered via text message or app notices. In March Levy County launched a new app, which said is available free to the general public.
“[It] will help spread our mission of preparedness throughout the county,” he said. “We hope that this will give our residents and visitors another tool in their preparedness kit in order to stay as prepared and as up to date as possible.”
Alachua County has an alert system at AlertAlachua.com.
“This system enables us to provide you with critical information quickly in a variety of situations, such as severe weather, unexpected road closures, missing persons and evacuations of buildings or neighborhoods,” the download site states.
The NOAA has a complete “National Hurricane Preparedness” site that includes risk assessment, evacuation planning and a checklist of disaster supplies.
Peaton said he hopes residents will stay prepared and he always wants people to pay attention all year long. And while predictions are helpful, Peaton said they can’t measure individual impact on a home or family.
“It only takes one to really impact somebody,” he said. “Last year was the busiest storm season on record and we got out fairly unscathed.”