MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Covering my first hurricane season in South Florida has me a little on edge. What do all new residents like me need to know to stay safe and ready?
I’m not alone in feeling woefully unprepared.READ MORE: Renewed Call For More Safety Measures After Deadly Rickenbacker Causeway Crash
Like me, one Sunshine State newbie realizes we’re on the cusp of hurricane season.
Michele Allison and her husband moved from Indiana to Weston last month. She traded cold winters for palm trees.
“Blue skies and warm temperatures,” Allison said with a smile.
The trade comes with hurricane season.
I asked her how she felt ahead of her first one.
“I’m terrified,” explained Allison.
One thing off her checklist is the hurricane shutters that protect the windows. It came with the house.
“You don’t need all of the windows protected,” I joked. “It’s just a theory.”
As we struggled to get the shutters in place, we sat back down to discuss her plan for when a hurricane approaches.
“A contractor was working on the house, made a comment, if it’s only a two, you stay,” she recalled.
“It’s still a hurricane,” Allison said.
She plans to find somewhere to go if the time calls for it.READ MORE: Divers Mark 20th Anniversary Of Sinking Spiegel Grove Off Key Largo
Shore points, like Miami Beach, are typically the first places to evacuate when a hurricane threatens.
“Have a plan. Build a kit. Stay informed,” said Miami Beach Fire Rescue Ops Chief Juan Mestas.
He has 44 years of first responder experience. He stresses when the county says it’s time to leave your home, listen.
“One of my biggest fears is that people do not heed the warnings and do not heed the evacuation order,” said Mestas.
Have somewhere to go. If you need help, Miami-Dade County’s website will post evacuation centers, or you can call 311. Also, emergency bus sites will be in place to get you there.
If you stay behind, help might not be readily available.
“We will keep a skeleton crew in the station if somebody decides to stay,” added Mestas. “We’re here just in case if we can go and start looking if we can.”
Mestas also mentions a hurricane kit ready to go when it’s time to roll. Be self-sustainable for 72 hours with water, non-perishables, and medicines.
“If it comes, you’re ready,” he said.
Mestas also works with FEMA search and rescue. He was in Puerto Rico when Maria battered the small island nation in 2017.
“As the storm went above us, the roof didn’t collapse but gave way, so then it started to rain on us, so to speak. It’s a scary feeling, and I would not want to go through it again.”
South Florida residents have more options than those living on the Islands. Make sure you know yours before it’s too late.
New residents are flocking to Florida. A report listed by the Office of Economic and Development Research expects the average amount of new residents yearly to be more than 300,000 through 2026. That’s 849 new residents per day.MORE NEWS: Miami Man Is Florida's Newest Millionaire After Playing Lottery's 'Jackpot Triple Play'
So please make sure you stay prepared and ahead of the storm.