MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – If you planning to use your cell phone and computers during or after a hurricane, think again and be sure to have a tech backup plan.
That’s the message from FEMA director Craig Fugate.
Fugate spoke Friday at the National Hurricane Center in Miami on the first day of the Atlantic Hurricane Season.
Fugate said Florida is at the top of his concerns as hurricane season starts.
“Florida is the sore thumb in the Hurricane Belt. It is the most vulnerable, most frequently impacted part of the country,” said Fugate.
He encouraged residents to text and email rather than call during the height of a storm to reduce congestion. He also suggested people think about backup sources to charge their electronics such as battery powered chargers and hand cranks.
Most importantly, he urged residents to make sure they have a battery operated radio that can receive emergency bulletins. He addressed hurricane risks along with Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
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.
Fugate also reminded residents not to procrastinate.
“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.”
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.
The busiest part of hurricane season is typically in August and September and ends on November 30th.