By Mary Thurwachter
Those of us who live on barrier islands are vulnerable to the storm surges hurricanes bring. Which means, when a hurricane warning is issued, it’s time to skedaddle.
“We go by the state of Florida guidelines,” says Diane Spears, park manager in Briny Breezes. “The first to go are people in mobile home courts and people on barrier islands —and that’s us!”
Regardless of what kind of building you live in, islanders are subject to evacuations as hurricanes close in.
When you leave the island, take blankets, pillows, food, water, flashlights, rain gear, changes of clothing, medicine and prescription drugs, portable radio and reading material to the shelter. Plan to be away from home a minimum of 48 hours.
How do you know when it’s time to go?
Keep tuned into TV and radio news, local authorities say. And when you go, be sure to take an ID like a driver’s license with your island address on it so authorities will let you come back over the bridge when the storm passes.
Manalapan Police Chief Clay Walker advises residents to pick up a pass at the Police Department. Many summer residents are caretakers. With a pass, they’ll have an easier time returning home after the storm.
Ocean Ridge Police Lt. Chris Yannuzzi advises residents to arrange lodging with friends or relatives on the mainland, west of I-95, if possible. You also could book a room at a sturdy hotel, but make reservations as soon as you hear of a hurricane watch because rooms will be hard to come by when the storm gets closer.
Evacuation routes are via the Linton Boulevard Bridge, Atlantic Avenue Bridge, George Bush Boulevard Bridge, Woolbright Road Bridge, the Ocean Ridge Ocean Avenue Bridge, and Lantana Bridge (Ocean Avenue).
The bridges will be raised and lowered as required for the flow of boat traffic until the wind reaches 35 miles per hour, and then they will be secured in a closed position and bridge tenders will not be in attendance during the storm. If you need to move a boat, you should do it at the first hurricane watch notice of the storm.
If you need a shelter, here are several to consider:
Park Vista High School, 7900 Jog Road, Boynton Beach; Boynton Beach High, 4975 Park Ridge Blvd., Boynton Beach; Atlantic High School, 2455 W. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach; and Forest Hill High School, 6901 Parker Ave., West Palm Beach.
Check with hurricane guides published by local daily newspapers (Palm Beach Post, South Florida Sun-Sentinel) in June for an expanded list of shelter locations.
What’s the difference between a hurricane watch and a hurricane warning?
A hurricane watch is an announcement that hurricane conditions are possible within 36 hours.
A hurricane warning is an announcement that sustained winds (74 mph or higher) associated with a hurricane are expected within 24 hours. A hurricane warning can remain in effect when dangerously high water or a combination of dangerously high water and exceptionally high waves continue, even though winds may be less than hurricane force.
Source: NOAA’s National Hurricane Center