Volusia County, FL - As Florida braces for the potential impact of Hurricane Irma, Volusia County Emergency Management has some helpful, potentially life-saving information for residents before, during, and after the storm. Volusia County Emergency Management Director Jim Judge reminds residents to prepare now with flashlights, batteries, and radios, along with other supplies. You should also begin making your evacuation plans now and continue to stay tuned to the most up-to-date information about the storm. If an evacuation is declared, according to Judge, it is possible that Volusia County may begin the evacuation process a couple days ahead of tropical storm force winds to make sure that people have enough time to get to a safe place. Bridges will be closed if winds reach a sustained speed of 39 miles per hour. "We don't want to evacuate at night. When it's sunny out and it's nice out, that's when we want to get those evacuations done," says Judge. "We want to encourage people that, if we do make evacuation orders, to heed that (order) and get out of harm's way." If an evacuation order is put into effect, residents are urged to have a place in mind to go, like a friend or family member's house, but there will be shelters opening up in Volusia County if an evacuation order is put into effect. Judge explains that there are approximately 20,000 spaces in area shelters, but the shelters should be considered a last resort. Officials remind residents that emergency shelters are not always comfortable. "We always say that a shelter is a life boat, not the 'Love Boat.' You're going to get a space on the floor; you might get a peanut butter and jelly sandwich," says Judge. "Of course the school district does their best to make it comfortable, but it's what you bring with you to that regular shelter that's going to provide that comfort for you." The primary shelters would be places like schools and the fairgrounds, but if needed, the County would also open up secondary shelters at community centers and possibly even the Ocean Center. Judge reminds residents to be aware of flooding dangers during and after the storm. You can head here to check flood maps and see which areas are most at risk for flooding in Volusia County. Volusia residents are also urged to be aware of the dangers of down power lines and to be careful when using generators. During Hurricane Matthew, Judge says Volusia County had one fatality related to carbon monoxide as a result of a generator, but there were also 25 other people treated for carbon monoxide poisoning. He reminds you to read directions carefully for the generators and to keep them properly ventilated, away from the home. The main piece of advice that Judge gives to Volusia County residents is to continually monitor the situation with Hurricane Irma. He says the most up-to-date information will be on the Volusia County Emergency Management's Facebook page here. You can also check out their website for other information and helpful tips here. You can also find the latest information on the storm through WNDB's website, Facebook, and Twitter pages. Copyright Southern Stone Communications 2017.
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