Aug. 21, 3 p.m. - As of the 2 p.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center, Tropical Storm Laura has sustained winds of 45 mph and is moving west at 18 mph. While it is still too early to know how Tropical Storm Laura will affect our area, there are many proactive steps residents can begin taking now to prepare:
- Trim trees by removing mainly the interior branches. This will thin the canopy of the tree and allow the winds to pass through it more easily.
- Check hurricane window and door protection for you home to see if any additional supplies are needed.
- Know your evacuation zone in the event evacuations are called for residents in certain 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.
- 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 and food will not be provided. Those staying in shelters will be required to take precautions against the spread of coronavirus including wearing masks.
- Have a plan that includes pets and personal protective equipment such as masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, etc. Never leave pets outside during a tropical storm or hurricane.
- Check your disaster supply kit to see if any items need to be restocked. Find a list of suggested items on the emergency management website.
In anticipation of the potential for heavy rains, the county’s public works department has sand available on a first-come, first-serve basis at the following locations:
- The corner of Leisure St. and Citrus Dr. in Navarre
- Tiger Point Park in Gulf Breeze
- Pace Fire-Rescue in Pace
- The corner of Pine Forest Rd. and Carroll Rd. in Milton
Residents must provide their own sandbags and shovel. Bags can be purchased for approximately 50 cents each at local hardware stores. For information on how to make and use sandbags, visit the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes. While sandbags can help mitigate to an extent, buying flood insurance is the best protection against flood loss.
Dangerous rip currents are expected along the gulf coast early next week. Remember, when rip currents are present, knee deep is too deep.
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, visit the online www.santarosa.fl.gov/emergency or call 850-983-INFO for information on where you can pick up a disaster guide. For current weather events, visit www.weather.gov/mob. Sign up for local weather and other disaster alerts at www.alertsantarosa.com.
# # #