Hurricane season officially runs from June 1 - November 30.
A hurricane watch means that hurricane conditions are possible in an area within 48 hours. A hurricane warning means that hurricane conditions are expected in the area within 36 hours.
The two main threats caused by an approaching hurricane are wind and water (including rainfall, storm surge, and flooding). While much attention is typically paid to the strong and destructive winds produced by a hurricane, storm surge is the greatest threat and is the most deadly part of a hurricane or tropical storm.
Hurricanes are the most predominate, damaging, and potentially deadly hazards for Cape Coral.
Run from water. Hide from wind. This adage speaks to a truth long known among meteorologists and emergency management officials: It's generally not the wind that will kill you, it’s the water. The below video by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) provides more information on storm surge and the threat it poses.
Especially in areas with modern building codes and construction like Cape Coral, structures can withstand strong winds. Even when they are damaged by debris or the wind itself, they will continue to provide some shelter and protection. However, water is different. Once water begins to rise, it enters structures under doors and through windows. It cuts off access to and from the structure, potentially trapping occupants until rescue personnel arrive. And unlike wind which dissipates quickly once the storm has moved through the area, water can linger for days or weeks. Because of this, hurricane evacuation zones are no longer identified by hurricane category but rather by storm surge. To find your evacuation zone, visit the Know Your Zone page.
Sandbags are beneficial to rising river waters but are not a sound mitigation strategy for tropical disturbances and storm surge. To simply seal the openings of a home such as exterior doors, garage, lanai, etc., against 1 ft of storm surge, it would take approximately 300 sandbags and 12,000 pounds of sand per residence (reference U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Flood Fighting: How to Use Sandbags)
Therefore City of Cape Coral DOES NOT supply sandbags. Instead, Cape Coral Emergency Management recommends members of the community carry flood insurance, have a hurricane plan, and follow evacuation orders.
Flood Insurance: Most homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage. Flood insurance is a separate policy that can cover buildings, the contents in a building, or both. Visit FloodSmart.gov for more information on the The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), to learn what is covered, and to find a policy.
Hurricane Plan: Cape Coral visitors and residents are encouraged to have an emergency plan and a disaster supply kit in case of an unexpected situation.
An emergency plan should include answers to questions like:
How will I receive emergency alerts and warnings?
What is my shelter plan?
What is my evacuation route?
What is my family/household communication plan?
Do I need to update my disaster supply kit?
You also need to consider the specific needs in your household such as the different ages of members within your household, dietary needs, medical needs, disabilities, languages spoken, and pets. Visit floridadisaster.org/planprepare to create your own, personalized family plan.
A disaster supply kit is a collection of basic items your household may need in the event of an emergency. After an emergency, you may need to survive on your own for several days. Being prepared means having your own food, water and other supplies to last for several days. This includes:
Eyeglasses and contact lenses and solution
Personal hygiene items
Books, games, puzzles or other activities
Cash or traveler's checks
Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records saved electronically or in a waterproof, portable container
Watch the below video to see how to make your own disaster supply kit. Remember, after a storm "The First 72 is on You."
Visit ready.gov/kit for a list of recommended supplies, including a printable checklist, and information on storing and maintaining your kit.
Pets: Don't forget to make a plan and kit for your pets as well! More information can be found at ready.gov/pets.
Boats: As an avid boating community, Cape Coral boat owners need to make sure preparations for their vessel are part of their hurricane plan. Information on preparing your boat for a hurricane can be found on page 10 of the Lee County All Hazards Guide.
Shelters: A shelter is a safe place to be during an emergency. However, it offers only the basic life-sustaining necessities. The shelter may not have electricity for the majority of your stay. It will be noisy, crowded and somewhat uncomfortable. Please plan to use an alternate location if possible.
Sheltering operations are overseen by the County, not the City. A list of Lee County shelters can be found at LeeEOC.com. Due to the City’s topography, the only shelter in Cape Coral is Island Coast High School. Please note, not all shelters will be opened during every storm. Also, while all shelters allow service animals, only pet-friendly shelters allow pets. These shelters will be available for every storm although locations may vary.
If you or a family member has special needs and may need to shelter during a storm, please register for the Special Medical Needs Program. Registrations must be renewed yearly and cannot be taken once Lee County enters the five-day hurricane forecast zone. For more information and to register, visit LeeEOC.com.
Generators: Hurricanes can often cause a loss of electricity. When this happens, many residents use generators to power their lights, fans, refrigerators, and other appliances. While generators are convenient and useful, they can be very dangerous, and precautions must be taken.
NEVER use a generator inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area. Opening doors and windows or using fans will NOT prevent carbon monoxide (CO) buildup in the home. Keep generators outside at least 15 feet away from doors, windows and vents that could allow CO to come indoors. If you use a generator, ALWAYS install CO alarms in central locations on every level of your home.
Be sure to turn the generator off and let it cool down before refueling. Gasoline spilled on hot engine parts could ignite.
Avoid electrocution. Keep the generator dry and do not use in rain or wet conditions or touch it with wet hands.
After the Storm: Disaster recovery is about rebuilding, restoring, and returning to everyday life. Response focuses on life safety, removing debris, returning people to their homes, rebuilding transportation, infrastructure, the environment, and coastal and historical needs. More information on steps and safety measures you should take after the storm, can be found on pages 18-22 of the Lee County All Hazards Guide.