Hillsborough emergency officials urge residents to prepare for hurricane season

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Hillsborough County emergency officials have urged the public to begin preparing for hurricane season on Wednesday, in less than two weeks.

Officials said evacuation zones are expected to change in the coming days or weeks, and the most important thing residents can do is check the county’s website regularly for an updated map.

“People will see this year that these evacuation zones have been updated,” said Katja Miller, Hillsborough County Social Services and Mass Care Emergency Management Program Coordinator. “We want them to check this regularly throughout the summer as this information comes out, so that they have the most up-to-date information if there is an event and also know that they really need to plan ahead where they need to evacuate if that’s the case.”

Miller said this is the first time in several years that evacuation zones, which are different from flood zones, have changed. She said rising sea levels and the potential for storm surge to flood neighborhoods differently made the update necessary.

RELATED: Pinellas County updates evacuation zones for nearly 48,000 households ahead of hurricane season

Emergency officials are also urging the public to make sure their hurricane preparedness kit is ready, which should include water, food, medicine, batteries, as well as supplies for children and adults. pets.

“It’s extremely important to prepare in advance for these kinds of things,” said Katherine Patino, of Hillsborough Emergency Management. “We can never predict any kind of shortage. When people start to panic, they panic buy. And you may not be able to get what you need to prepare for a storm.”

The county is also looking for nearly 100 volunteer amateur radio operators. There are currently about 90 volunteers, but emergency managers need about double that number to run as many emergency shelters as possible.

“We do everything from shelter staffing to battalion leader support to general public support,” said Bill Miller, who helps coordinate the program. “We think that when we support the general public, it could be like something [important] only messages of health and well-being.”

Other tips from leaders: Make arrangements in advance for loved ones with disabilities who may need transportation assistance. And, as always, make plans for your pets.

Katja Miller is also urging the public to sign up for the county’s mass notification system, called HCFL Alert. Emergency alerts include evacuations, flood warnings, severe weather advisories and major road closures.

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