Every FL resident knows it only takes one hurricane to cause mass destruction, as witnessed last year with Hurricane Ian. As many continue to remediate, restore and rebuild, the Atlantic hurricane season is on the horizon with less than one month until its official start. Beforehand, FISH OF SANCAP is encouraging everyone to plan and prepare for the hurricane season ahead.
Annually, FISH OF SANCAP, the City of Sanibel, Lee County Emergency Management, and others work together to review plans and any changes for the upcoming hurricane season. FISH then compiles a Hurricane Preparedness Resource Packet providing detailed information on where to go, what to do, and how to prepare in the event of an approaching storm.
The hurricane season resource packet was one of the first programs the FISH organization offered islanders when it began 40 years ago. “The packet provides critical information and helpful steps to stay safe before, during and after a storm,” says Erika Broyles, Senior Services Director of FISH, who oversees the program and coordinates the efforts of the team to insure all information is correct.
FISH and volunteers verify evacuation routes, flood zones, hotels with generators, shelters, pet accommodations, and more to update the packet annually. While the official start of hurricane season is June 1, FISH’s resource packet is available now to anyone who requests. “With the safety of our neighbors in mind, we want to make sure everyone has reliable information in case a storm approaches,” says Broyles. Broyles will be at the FISH site, located at 2430 Periwinkle Way, every Monday to hand out packets.
FISH volunteers, in collaboration with other stakeholders like the City of Sanibel, also work with the most vulnerable residents to ensure their annual emergency evacuation plan is up to date. The Hurricane Committee will keep in touch with them before, during, and after storms and, to the extent possible, update out of state family members on the status of the storm and loved ones. “As we learned with Ian, it is very important to have up-to-date contact information for family and friends in both electronic and paper form,” continues Broyles. “With Ian, power was out for an extended period of time, and the hard copy ‘in case of emergency’ contact sheets were crucial when trying to contact family members of residents. This program is so important and is a true collaboration between many island and off-island organizations. Our volunteers spend many hours updating and verifying information and will set up appointments with our most vulnerable to discuss the packet and solidify plans for evacuation, in the event the islands are ordered to do so.” If anyone is interested in becoming a member of the hurricane preparedness committee, please contact Erika Broyles.
FISH also notes the importance of listening to authorities if an evacuation order is issued. “Experts know that the best way to stay safe during a hurricane event is to follow evacuation orders and get out of the path of the storm,” says Broyles. “With Ian, we learned how quickly conditions can change. Often, evacuation orders are ordered at the last minute, but you don’t need to wait for the order to leave. It’s best to have several routes and options that can keep you out of the storm’s path, and share those plans with family and friends.”
To receive a free Hurricane Resource Packet, please contact the FISH Walk-In Center at 239-472-4775 or email email@example.com. Packets may also be downloaded from the organization’s website, www.fishofsancap.org, on the Hurricane Ian Resources or Social & Senior Services page. Appointments may be arranged for those who would like a more detailed discussion on how to prepare for hurricane season.