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Hurricane Seminar: Be prepared

June 19, 2019
By ED FRANKS ( , Pine Island Eagle

Hurricane season is here and Lee County Emergency Management and Matlacha / Pine Island Fire Control District teamed up last week to present a hurricane seminar on Pine Island at Pine Island United Methodist Church.

About 75 people attended the seminar, which featured Sandra Tapfumaneyi, operations chief of Lee County Emergency Management, delivering a one-hour slide presentation.

"The one good thing about hurricanes is you have plenty of warning that they're coming," Tapfumaneyi said. "As you know, the Midwest had been experiencing tornadoes and the people have almost no notice."

This year NOAA predicts there will be 13 named storms (12.1 average), five hurricanes (6.4 average) and two major hurricanes (2.7 average).

"But it only takes one," Tapfumaneyi said. "Hurricane Irma was the storm we never wanted because predicting Irma was difficult. Irma, a category 5 hurricane, kept shifting from east to west and back again. The first predictions were for a 5 to 9-foot storm surge and that was increased to 9 to 15 feet."

According to Tapfumaneyi, Lee County zones A & B evacuated 300,000 people, the largest sheltering operation in county history with a total of 35,000 people in shelters.

Pine Island and Matlacha are both zoned A. Zone A is the most vulnerable area, the first to be impacted and the first to be evacuated. Due to the low elevation and proximity to tidal waters in that zone, there is a potential for a fatal storm surge.

Evacuation to a shelter should not be your first choice as an evacuation location, it was stressed. General population shelters provide only the most basic needs a roof with little floor space. If you have pets, check for pet friendly shelters.

"Hurricane Irma was a very unpredictable storm," Tapfumaneyi continued. "It landed about 30 miles south of Pine Island and could easily have landed here causing much more damage. If you're told to evacuate, leave the island and be prepared."

The All Hazards Guide, unavailable for the meeting but available at Station #1 starting early this week, recommends that people with disabilities must assume personal responsibility and be prepared for an emergency.

For those with special needs, LeeTran will provide transportation to shelters. However, you must pre-apply to stay at a special needs shelter.

The All Hazards Guide includes a comprehensive "Supply Kit" for emergencies. The kit should include such items as one gallon of drinking water per person 3 to 7-day supply, plastic wrap, cooler for food storage and ice, lighter or matches, sleeping bags, lawn chairs, camp stove, spare glasses, personal hygiene items, list of prescription medications, over the counter medications, hand sanitizer, water and food for animals, NOAA weather radio, first aid kit, etc.

The Matlacha/Pine Island Fire Control District works to form and train a successful Community Emergency Response Team that can be used in community events and in case of an emergency. Contact the M/PIFCD for information.

The M/PIFCD is implementing a new hurricane pass system for island residents. The new sticker system is an improvement to the tag system previously used. The new pass is a sticker to be placed inside your car window and will be valid from 2018-2022.

Requirements for a Hurricane Pass:

You can obtain two stickers per driver's license; you must provide proof of residency (driver's license with district address, utility bill, tax bill, etc.); you will need to provide license plate number(s); and you will need to fill out a short application

The new sticker pass is available at Station 1, located at 5700 Pine Island Road, Bokeelia, FL 33922. Please stop by during regular business hours from 7:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. If you have any questions, call at 239-283-0030.

This program is designed to ease re-entry. This is a voluntary program and is not a requirement. Residents are still able to re-enter by providing proof of residency at checkpoints, when implemented.

"The All Hazards Guide is a valuable resource and will help islanders be prepared," Deputy Chief Shawn Brant said. "They are being printed and will be available some time this week at Station #1. In the mean time you can go to the Lee County Emergency Operations Center website and download a copy."

Additional information is available at



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