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2012 Hurricane Season Officially Underway

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Here we go again. Check your battery, water and canned food supplies because the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane season is officially underway.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano wants to make sure Americans are prepared for the start of hurricane season.

“Lets all lean forward and we will be prepared for this hurricane season,” Secretary Napolitano said.

She joined Federal Emergency Management Agency head Craig Fugate, as well as Florida Gov. Rick Scott to urge those likely to be affected by storms to prepare beforehand. Officials started their public service campaign Friday at the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Fugate said Florida is at the top of his concerns as hurricane season starts.

“Florida is the sore thumb in the Hurricane Belt,” Fugate said. “It is the most vulnerable, most frequently impacted part of the country.”

The season has already seen two named storms. Tropical Storm Alberto formed off the coast of South Carolina on May 19 and dissipated a few days later. And on Memorial Day, Tropical Storm Beryl came ashore near Jacksonville and dumped 10 inches of rain in some areas of north Florida. The next name on the list is Chris.

The NOAA Atlantic Hurricane Season forecast calls for 9 to 15 named storms, 4 to 8 hurricanes, and 1 to 3 major hurricanes.

The busiest part of hurricane season is typically in August and September and ends on November 30th.

Since South Florida hasn’t seen a devastating storm since Hurricane Wilma hit in 2005, emergency managers worry that many people won’t take the time to stock supplies and have a plan in place just in case we are threatened with a storm.

“Don’t wait until the last minute. You run out of time,” said Fugate. “Don’t wait for the next forecast and hope it gets better. You’ll run out of time. Don’t think because you’ve lived here all your life it can’t be worse than you ever imagined.”

Fugate continued, “People have lost their lives, have lost their homes, have lost everything because they waited too late.”

The National Hurricane Center and the National Weather Service recommends that families not only make and discuss their emergency plans, but also know their home’s vulnerability to wind, flooding and storm surge. Now is the time to locate the safest place in the home, away from windows, or find the closest shelter.

It’s also not a bad idea to have an out of state friend as a single family contact in case members get separated.

Now is also the time to check your homeowner’s insurance coverage and flood insurance.

Also make sure you have a plan on what to do with pets since there only a few pet friendly shelters in Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties.

This August also marks the 20th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew.

“One of the many things we have learned from Andrew and other disasters is government cannot do it alone,” Miami-Dade Emergency Operations Center Director Curtis Sommerhoff.

At Miami-Dade’s EOC, officials hoped they wouldn’t have to return there until November.

“God willing this is the last time you see us here to the end of hurricane season, sometime in November,” said Miami-Dade County Commission Chairman Joe Martinez.

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