Because these super storms form well away from land there is usually sufficient time to prepare for the arrival of a hurricane. This is the time to assemble your emergency kits whether you are evacuating or riding the storm out. Using the list of items provided ensure that you have sufficient supplies for your entire family, including pets. Make your arrangements well in advance and heed the local media warnings. If you are asked to evacuate please do so in a timely manner and be prepared to be away from your home for the duration of the event. If you live in an area east of I95 it is probable that you will be directed to evacuate. This area is in the storm surge zone and flooding is a very real probability. A storm surge of 30 feet would cause flooding conditions inland to I95. Seek shelter appropriately and be sure to take with you those essential items as listed. Upon leaving turn off utilities at the main switches and again unplug all electrical connections and turn off light switches. Lifting furniture off of the floor may be of little help and the risk of injuring yourself is greater than the threat of water damage.
If you live in a sturdy, well constructed home and are not directed to evacuate, consider staying home and prepare yourself accordingly. If your home is outfitted with storm shutters check them to ensure they operate properly. Do not wait until the storm has arrived as you may be in for a surprise. If you do not have storm shutters begin covering windows, in particular the large ones, with plywood or other storm material. Taping windows will not protect your home, but will help in the event the glass shatters.
Take a walk around your home and note any items that could be blown around and secure them accordingly. Note the trees in your yard and inspect for any dead or dying branches. Twigs turn into missiles in wind storms and large branches could mean devastating damages. Ask your neighbors to do the same. Look at landscaping projects and see if brick borders or landscaping timbers could be blown about and cause injury or damage.
Tips from Public Works
Make trees more wind resistant by removing diseased or damaged limbs, then strategically removing branches so that wind can blow through. Prepare to cover ALL windows of your home.
- If shutters have not been installed, use pre-cut plywood as described above.
- Note: Tape does not prevent windows from breaking; so taping windows is not recommended.
Prepare to bring indoors lawn furniture, outdoor decorations or ornaments, trash cans, hanging plants, and anything else that can be picked up by the wind
Make a list of all important phone numbers to make contact easily when necessary.
Know the closest location to pick up sand and sandbags before a storm.
Bring all trash containers and recycle bins into your garage.
Bring in outdoor objects such as lawn furniture, toys, and garden tools and anchor objects that cannot be brought inside.
Moor boat securely or move it to a designated safe place. Use rope or chain to secure boat to trailer. Use tie-downs to anchor trailer to the ground or house.
If at home when the event occurs:
- Stay inside, away from windows, skylights, and glass doors.
- Keep a supply of flashlights and extra batteries handy. Avoid open flames, such as candles and kerosene lamps, as a source of light.
- If power is lost, turn off major appliances to reduce power "surge" when electricity is restored.
Avoid loose or dangling power lines and report them immediately to the power company, or authorities.
Drive only if absolutely necessary and avoid flooded roads and washed-out bridges.
Storm Related Tree Ownership Issues
After dealing with one hurricane after another last year, the City received numerous calls from residents asking what to do in the case of a leaning, damaged or diseased tree on an adjacent property that is threatening their house or property. First of all, the owner of the property in which the tree is growing cannot be held responsible for damage his tree may do to an adjacent property, unless they are legally notified of the hazard. The best way to do this is to contact the City's Urban Forestry Division at (386) 986-3758 and request staff to go out and determine if the tree really is a hazard that needs attention. Due to these extreme storm events we have been experiencing lately, a lot of concern has been unnecessarily directed towards healthy trees that are generally not considered hazards. The City cannot request a property owner to remove a tree just because it might hit their house if it falls. In order for a permit to be issued, the tree must exhibit poor branching structure, exhibit severe lean, decline, disease, root damage (including partial uprooting) or be partially or fully dead. With the permission of the adjacent lot owner, any pine tree less than 6 inches in diameter as measured 4-1/2 feet above grade can be removed without a permit.
Providing the tree(s) do fall into one or more of the above conditions, the City will mail a Tree Removal Permit to the property owner explaining the tree is a hazard to the adjacent property owner and should be removed to avoid liability. At this point, City involvement ends. The City has no police power to force the property owner to remove the tree; we can only issue the permit and suggest it to be removed. The complainant should now write the property owner a letter indicating that a hazard tree or trees exist on their property and if they do not take action to mitigate the situation, they could be held liable for damages if the tree should happen to fall. This letter should be sent by certified mail. The return receipt card when it is mailed back to the sender should then copy it and send it to their insurance company to prove they have done all they can do to alleviate damage to their property. Now if the tree falls and causes damage or injury, the complainant should be able to make a claim against the property owner where the tree existed. The bottom line is, if the adjacent property owner has not been notified of the tree hazard and it falls onto your property, the tree is YOURS, including repair of damage, removal from site and clean up.