Daytona Beach, FL – You could argue it started a week ago with Subtropical Storm Alberto and that Mother Nature doesn’t care about arbitrary human timelines.
Either way, the Atlantic hurricane season is here and it’s time to get ready after two consecutive years of strikes in Florida with Matthew and Irma.
NOAA lead hurricane forecaster Dr. Gerry Bell is calling for 10 to 16 named storms, of which at least five to nine should be hurricanes and one to four of those being a major hurricane.
Having said that, Bell admits it’s hard to know what to expect.
“We’re not expecting this season to be one of the most active on record,” Bell noted. “There’s no strong climate signal saying it’s going to be extremely active, like last year, or extremely weak.”
Because last season was extremely active, Bell says many parts of the country enter the hurricane season more physically vulnerable, making preparedness even more important in 2018. He also noted that we’ll have to wait and see how key climate factors affect storm development as the season plays out, especially El Nino/La Nina.
You don’t need an active season to become a storm victim, though. Ask any Hurricane Andrew survivor. That’s what Volusia County’s director of emergency management said earlier this week on WNDB’s Volusia Today program.
“You want to stay informed on what’s going on,” Jim Judge said. “[If the] cable’s out [or the] TV’s out, how are you going to stay in touch? Make sure you’ve got that radio.”
If you need to get a battery-powered or hand-cranked AM/FM or weather radio, the next week or so is a good time to do it. Florida’s brand-new sales tax holiday on disaster supplies starts today and ends June 7. Click here for a list of what’s eligible.
“After a disaster, emergency workers may not be able to reach everyone right away,” Judge stated. “A disaster plan will help to prepare your family for these difficult times.”
Former FEMA chief Craig Fugate also wants you to think about other things.
“Go talk to [your] insurance agent,” Fugate added. “Make sure [you] have the right coverage.”
Fugate stressed the importance of flood insurance, saying many people in areas not considered flood zones were financially devastated last year, especially in Houston during Hurricane Harvey.
If you need help with insurance, you can call a special toll-free hotline provided by Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis. It’s 1-877-MY-FL-CFO.
“Dial that number [with] any question you might have,” Patronis noted. “Our office is there to help you navigate those insurance questions. If you file a claim, get those questions to your claims answered and help you get through this so you’re prepared for the next storm.”
The Consumer Protection Coalition urges you to be on the lookout for scams, especially anything related to assigning benefits.
“As we saw last year with Hurricane Irma, major storms attract scam artists seeking to make money off hardworking Floridians,” said Mark Wilson, President/Chief Executive Officer of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, which spearheads the coalition. “With this hurricane season expected to be an active one, anyone who sustains damage should call their insurance company first before signing an AOB.”
The warning coincides with the launch of a new series of digital ads aimed at protecting people from becoming victims of AOB abuse.
The six-month season ends November 30th.