MIAMI (CBSMiami) — This is the second hurricane season where South Florida is preparing in a pandemic, but Miami-Dade and Broward Counties have new mayors this year, and many will be looking to them to be the voice of calm in a storm.

“We know that storms are coming earlier and lasting longer,” said Daniella Levine Cava.

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Between them, Miami-Dade’s Cava and Broward’s Steve Geller have 4.6 million residents to think about when making this year’s plans for Hurricane season.

For Geller, the top priority is human safety.

“Obviously the number one priority is to have sufficient shelter capacity and a sufficient ability to evacuate the coastal areas,” said Geller.

Mayor Geller worries that many people won’t go into shelters, for fear of being in crowds while we remain in a pandemic. That is why he and his Miami-Dade counterpart are pushing the same message.

“Get vaccinated immediately so that you won’t have this tough decision to make if you have to be evacuated, if you have to go into a shelter,” said Miami-Dade’s Cava.

“We’re really urging people, this is the time to get vaccinated, Cava said. “In case you do need to be in close quarters.”

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In Miami-Dade, Cava said extra effort has gone into reaching residents with an updated hurricane guide and an app with plenty of useful information on the county’s hurricane preparedness plan, but she wants county citizens to also do their part.

“We especially want those who are really vulnerable and might need help with evacuation to register early with our office of emergency management,” she explained. “We also need everybody to do their prep work like trees, they should be trimmed now, trash piles should be picked up now.”

Meantime back in Broward, Mayor Geller said he wants to get the county better equipped to handle sea level rise and prevent flooding. He knows all too well one grim fact about hurricanes.

“The majority of people who die in a hurricane die from the flooding, not from the wind,” he said.

Finally, both mayors are stressing the age-old adage of people getting their ducks in a row now, by getting hurricane supplies early.

Cava put it very succinctly.

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“Don’t be caught flatfooted, when the hurricane is on the way.”

Jim Berry