Officials offer tips as hurricane season begins

f t # e
Washington, DC, June 12, 2015 | comments

WSVN – Channel 7 News

WEST MIAMI-DADE, Fla. (WSVN) -- Forecasters and officials gathered at the National Hurricane Center, Monday, to offer tips to help residents prepare for this year's hurricane season.

According to officials, this year's hurricane season is expected to be slower than an average season, with six to 11 named storms.

Monday is the start of the six-month Atlantic hurricane season, prompting officials to remind everyone that only one storm can cause a mess. The center's director, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), joined FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate at the conference, and they spoke about how to prepare for a storm. "It's never too early to be getting ready," said NHC Director Rich Knabb.

Wasserman Schultz said, though it is expected to be a quiet season, memories of Hurricane Andrew should be enough reason for residents to be prepared for anything. "Even though this is projected to be a below average season for the onset of a storm, what was just driven home to me in the briefing that I had at NOAA was the idea that it only takes one," she said. "You know, it doesn't matter whether we're projected to have three, five, ten storms make landfall or whether their intensity is projected to be low, medium or high, it only takes one significant storm to come across and make landfall, and be that direct hit that Andrew was."

Fugate emphasized to plan ahead and advised residents to know whether they live in an evacuation area. "When we talk about storm surge, we're talking about people who, if they don't move to higher ground, may drown," he said. "It is the leading cause of death, historically from hurricanes."

Leslie Chapman-Henderson, President and CEO of the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, introduced the newest version of the nonprofit group's publication, which aims to address questions residents may have about storm-related property damage. "It's available in English and in Spanish, online, and of course, it's free," she said as she held up a print version.

Since a storm has not struck South Florida in nearly a decade, the number of volunteers at the Red Cross has gone down, and they informed everyone that those interested are more than welcome to assist.

Governor Rick Scott was also in South Florida for the ribbon cutting of Hialeah's new Emergency Operations Center, just in time for hurricane season. The governor received a tour of the facility he helped fund to help better prepare for disasters. Officials said state funds totaling $750,000 were granted to the City of Hialeah in 2014 for its construction.

Last week, President Barack Obama was in South Florida, and he devoted the second half of his trip to hurricane preparedness ahead of the season. He met with forecasters and toured the NHC on Thursday.

Knabb said the message to take away on the first day of hurricane season is to be prepared. "None of the forecasts and warnings, evacuation instructions, are going to be as effective as they need to be if individuals, families and business owners have not prepared in advance for what they need to do," he said.

f t # e