Welcome to hurricane season.
If you’re new to the area you may have recently encountered your first flooded roadways, rising groundwater and canceled windstorm insurance.
Add to that mix La Niña holding in the Pacific, a slowed Gulf Stream, a warmer than usual loop current and the National Hurricane Center’s 2022 predictions, and it’s looking like we’ll be saying “weather channel” into our TV remotes soon.
Luckily in mid-May, we had Saharan dust. Seriously: Dust from Africa can suppress hurricane formation.
If this all sounds confusing and alien, it won’t soon. Our South Florida season of storms is just beginning. You’ll be a hurricane pro by November.
If you’re staying for the summer, you should know that along with rising temperatures and humidity this time of year come government budget workshops. This is when they’ll talk about how to spend your tax money.
You might want to attend. This is the critical time for individuals and governments to plan for the possibility of storms.
So, for all you novices, here are some storm lessons learned from past seasons:
• The electricity will go out. Get a generator. Put gas in it — and your car. Be sure you’ve got propane for the grill. You may need to grill all that food thawing in your freezer. And remember, ATMs, gas stations, pharmacies and grocery stories all need electricity to operate. Get what you need in advance.
• Sewer systems have electric pumps that power lift stations. If you don’t want to receive “do not flush” notices from city hall, push your elected officials now to make sure they’ve got enough working generators to keep things flowing.
• Residents of the barrier island are often asked to evacuate. It’s not so much because there’s fear of the ocean sweeping us all away; it’s because once trees and utility lines come down, it takes a while to clear roadways for public safety. In other words, paramedics won’t be able to get to you. Leave the island, go to higher ground. Especially residents of Briny Breezes. Don’t be stubborn. Leave.
• Trees will fall down. Driveways and roads will become impassible. Check with your municipality to make sure it has an adequate contract with a company that can quickly begin clearing the roadways. The sooner this happens, the sooner you can get back on the island.
• Expect roads to have standing water for hours. Clear the storm drains in your neighborhood — including the one at the end of your driveway. Don’t contribute to the flooding. • Fill the freezer with water jugs. It’s not so much that there may not be water (although there may not be if systems get contaminated), but you’re going to want ice. Trust me.
• Charge your smartphone, tablet and tools and consider backup options, such as a car charger for your phone. Once the storm passes, communication is critical and a dead battery is worthless.
• Don’t let your elected officials deplete their reserve accounts. It’s a complicated and expensive process to recover from a storm. The federal government usually comes through with assistance, but it can take years for funds to be approved and delivered. Your municipal staff needs access to cash to pay overtime and get life back to normal for residents.
But don’t just take my word for it. Check at your city or town hall for vital hurricane preparedness information. And don’t be afraid to push your elected leaders on being prepared. Hurricanes can be survivable, but they aren’t cheap. Our elected leaders shouldn’t be either.
— Mary Kate Leming