The Tampa Bay area has not been hit by a major hurricane since 1921, but that doesn’t mean we will never be hit by one again. Since we never know when a hurricane will cause the type of devastation and major flood damage Tampa residents fear.
Even though we haven’t had a direct hit, we have experienced the aftermath of nearby hurricanes that have led to a number of water damage restoration Tampa needs. That’s why it is so important for Tampa residents to prepare ahead and take heed of evacuation orders when they are given.
Additionally, preparing for possible hurricane evacuations in 2020 will have to factor in COVID-19. According to the Tampa Bay Times, “Florida must prepare for a hurricane strike during a deadly pandemic. COVID-19 changes everything about storm season: How families and communities will prepare; how residents will evacuate and shelter; and how we’ll deal with the aftermath.”
If the Tampa Bay area does get a hurricane evacuation order, use the following as a guide for what to pack.
Always Keep an Emergency Kit
Ideally, you have an emergency kit already packed and ready to go. But, statistics show that many Americans are not prepared to leave at a moment’s notice. An emergency kit should have your family’s emergency supplies, first aid, and essentials. The kit should be stored in a bag or bin that makes it easy to transport. It is wise to invest in a pre-assembled 3-day emergency kit from the American Red Cross.
Take All Your Important Documents
We encourage all homeowners to keep their important documents in a waterproof fire safe. Sadly, many people neglect to do so, which means they lose documents that they need that are not easily replaced. In addition to storing important documents in a safe regularly, it is necessary to take these documents with you when you evacuate. First, you don’t want to risk something happening to them while you are away from home. Second, you may need them when you return home (such as needing to show proof of residence).
When you evacuate, be sure to take the following:
- Driver’s license
- The deed to your house
- Your will or trust
- Proof of insurance/ insurance policies
- Medical records
- Social security cards
- Birth certificates
- Immunization records
- Pet vaccination records
Have Cash on Hand
Don’t make the mistake of evacuating without cash. People tend to think all they need is their credit cards or debit cards, but natural disasters can make these ineffective. For example, some banks may be closed, or the power may be down, which means you won’t be able to take money out of your account. Experts recommend having enough cash for three to five days on hand during evacuations.
Enough Food and Water for Your Family Members
We’ve all seen photos of supermarket shelves emptied by people preparing for hurricanes. That’s one reason why it is important to make sure you have enough food and water for your family members. You can’t rely on your evacuation location having everything you need. Generally, you should have enough food and water for 3 days for the evacuation and then additional food and water for the days upon your return home. You and many others, including grocery stores and restaurants, may return in need of flood damage cleanup in Tampa.
NOTE: The State of Florida now recommends families have enough food, water, and supplies to last them 7 days.
Favorite Possessions and Family Heirlooms
We understand that when packing for an emergency evacuation that you may not have a ton of space. You will likely have to leave most of your possessions behind. However, the restoration company Tampa FL residents trust, we know firsthand how devastating it can be to lose your favorite possessions and family heirlooms. That’s why we recommend taking the possessions that cannot be replaced that you can’t live without with you. If you can’t fit them in the trunk, then find ways to make them more secure in your home before you evacuate.
Other Essentials to Pack
In addition to these items, there are a few more essentials that you need when you evacuate to keep your family safe and comfortable.
- Medications – Prescription medications and non-prescription medications
- Baby supplies – Diapers, wipes, and formula
- Pet supplies – Pet food, vaccination records, and a leash
- Hygiene supplies – Wet wipes, hand sanitizer, face masks
- Extra power sources – batteries and spare chargers
- Battery-powered or solar-powered hand-crank weather radio
- Cell phone and charger
- First aid kit
COVID-19 Evacuation Reminders
COVID-19 makes the 2020 hurricane season more complicated. Whereas before your family could possibly head to an evacuation shelter, these shelters will most likely limit their numbers to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The Tampa Bay Times notes, “From now on, every hurricane kit should be stocked with pandemic necessities: hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes and at least two cloth masks per person.”
Don’t Forget to Bring Contact Information
Before you leave town, it is important to store contact information in your phone for your insurance company. If you know a neighbor or someone else who is not evacuating, you should get their contact information, too. After the hurricane is passed, they may be able to take a look at your home to see if it has been affected by the storm. On this note, it is also important to keep Dririte’s contact information with you. We will be ready to start restoring your property as soon as we get the call.