Florida Keys Hurricane Guide 2021

FLORIDA KEYS HURRICANE GUIDE 2021 Be Safe Be Prepared

Traveling to the Florida Keys During Hurricane Season, p3

New Reentry Stickers Available for Monroe County Residents, p25 Take Steps Now to Prepare for Potential Storms Coming Our Way, p23

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H U R R I C A N E G U I D E Let’s Get Prepared for Hurricane Season !

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from all electric lines. If limbs are intruding on electrical lines, do not try to trim them yourself.

Instead call us so a trained tree trimmer can safely trim the limbs away at no cost. Call us at (305) 295-1010 or visit KeysEnergy.com/Customer-Service-Requests to submit your FREE tree trimming request today! ...and We Help You Stay Notified!

KEYS offers an automated notification system to update customers on system emergencies by texts and phone calls. For the system to work, make sure we have your accurate phone number on file.

Call (305) 295-1090 and Customer Services will assist you, or update your own information at KeysEnergy.com/Telelink

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When a Hurricane Threatens Traveling to the Florida Keys During Hurricane Season

Shannon Weiner (standing), Monroe County Emergency Management Director, oversees support staff at the Emergency Operations Center during crisis situations, such as hurricanes.

I n the Florida Keys, the same forc- es that create balmy breezes and warm waves also can bring high winds, heavy rain and tidal surges. Because they are on the north- ern fringe of the Caribbean, the

Florida Keys occasionally are threatened by tropical cyclones, a generic name for a low-pressure weather system with organized thunderstorm activity and circular winds. When the wind speed of

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a tropical cyclone reaches a sus- tained 74 mph, it is classified a hurricane. In the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean tropical cyclones can present a threat to most Caribbean coun- tries, eastern Mexico, and North American coastal areas from Texas through Nova Scotia. Fortunately, modern-day tropical weather forecasting provides ample time for preparation to protect lives and property. Development Council (TDC) has a formal communications program that is tightly coordinated with local emergency management officials to provide crucial information to help visitors safely exit the Florida Keys in the event a hurricane threatens the region. Because the Florida Keys tourism industry cares about the safety of the island chain’s visitors, the TDC endeavors to provide honest, trust- worthy information about traveling to the Keys, and even advises people when it is not appropriate to travel in the unlikely event of a storm threat. The TDC’s visitor safety pro- gram has been an award-winning model for other destinations in

hurricane-prone regions. In 2007 both the National (U.S.) and Florida Hurricane Conferences for the first time honored the Keys programs with public awareness awards. Frequently Asked Questions About Traveling to the Florida Keys The terms “hurricane” and “ty- phoon” are region-specific names for a strong tropical cyclone. A tropical cyclone is the generic term for a low-pressure weather system formed over tropical or subtropical waters with thunderstorm activ- ity and surface wind circulation. Tropical cyclones with maximum sustained surface winds of less than 39 mph are called tropical de- pressions. Once a tropical cyclone reaches winds of at least 39 mph it is typically called a tropical storm and assigned a name. In the Atlan- tic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, once the winds reach 74 mph, the system is called a hurricane. There are five categories of hurricane, with Cat- egory 1 considered minimal and 5 the most severe. During Hurricane Season What is a hurricane?

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and fall months. Many visitors from the United Kingdom and Europe visit during that period. Many great events are scheduled in the Keys during that time, as school is back in session and family vacationing is at a lull. Historically, the chances are excellent that your Keys vacation will not be interrupted by a hurricane. Why, when I see a hurricane forecast tracking map, is

When is hurricane season? The Atlantic hurricane season for- mally begins June 1 and ends No- vember 30. Historically, the chances of hurricane activity are greater between August 15 and October 1. Can I travel to the Florida Keys during hurricane season? Absolutely. The Keys are very popu- lar with vacationers in the summer

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instructions provided by emergency management officials and your lodg- ing management. The Florida Keys may be in the stippled area, but end up not being impacted by a storm. What do I do if I’m in the Florida Keys and a hurricane threatens the region? Throughout the summer and fall, Keys emergency management offi- cials keep in constant touch with the National Hurricane Center, based in Miami. And the Keys tourism council’s communications program lets visitors know of any need to evacuate, and long before travel conditions become hazardous. Local media reports and official advisories to lodging facilities provide updates and details about possible evacua- tion orders. If you hear of a storm threat, check with the registration office, visit the Florida Keys web- site at fla-keys.com or, while in the Keys, call the visitor assistance line at 1-800-771-KEYS. Should a storm threaten, for safety reasons, visitors are always asked to leave the Keys first. Although emergency officials will err on the side of caution, evac- uation orders are only given if there is a significant storm threat.

so much area covered with that cone-like shaded area? Although hurricane forecasting has improved each year, it is still an inexact science, especially when the storm is more than three days away. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) produces two types of track- ing maps. The first shows the area of strike possibility from zero to three days out and the second includes four to five days out. Because hurricane forecasting is not an exact science, NHC fore- cast tracks of the center line have high error rates, especially forecasts issued more than three days ahead of a potential strike. The average track forecast errors in recent years are used to construct the areas of uncertainty for the first three days (solid white area) and for days 4 and 5 (a white stippled area). For the four- and five-day forecast, the error can be hundreds of miles. The primary purpose of the four- and five-day track forecast map is that the hurricane center wants people to simply be aware of the storm, think about what actions to take in the event it continues to proceed in their direction, and be ready to follow the

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The Tourist Development Coun- cil will also message storm-related information via its Facebook and Twitter accounts. When do I have to leave? If a visitor evacuation order is nec- essary, officials strive to issue it early in the morning to provide ample time to make alternative travel arrangements. There is no need to panic, however, visitors are urged to follow emergency directives in a timely manner.

I have immediate plans to travel to the Keys, but an evacuation has been ordered. Why can’t I continue with those plans? If an evacuation is ordered, there will be a steady stream of traffic leaving the Keys. If you travel to the Keys, you will be required to leave. Furthermore, most, if not all visitor facilities will not be open, as their owners make hurricane prepara- tions. Buildings will be shuttered. Boats will be secured in protective The Complete Key West Bicycle Shop

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moorings. State and county parks will close. So even though in the early stages of an evacuation, visi- tors may be able to reach the Keys, they will not enjoy the traditional benefits of a Keys vacation. It’s best to reschedule travel plans to visit af- ter the potential danger has passed. I’m in the Keys and there’s an order to evacuate, but I don’t have a car. How do I leave? There are several options. Check with the front office or hotel con-

cierge to see if there are any rental cars or flights available from Key West International Airport. A number of ground transportation shuttle services operate between Key West and Miami and Fort Lauderdale International Airports. Typically, Greyhound Bus Lines adds extra buses to accommodate vacationers leaving the Keys. The TDC surveys transportation com- panies to determine what is avail- able, and passes that information via advisories to accommodations

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facilities and posts it on the TDC website, fla-keys.com. The Tourist Development Council will also mes- sage storm-related information via its Facebook and Twitter accounts. Where can I go? Local tourism officials realize that an unexpected vacation interrup- tion is a hardship on visitors. The tourism council works cooperatively with other Florida destinations that typically set up special hotlines to provide hotel availability and rates. These numbers are published in advisories sent to properties and posted on the Keys website. Visit Florida is partnering with Expedia to share availability and rates for evacuees. In the event of a storm, an online resource is to be available at Expedia.com/Florida. What about lodging refunds? Each property has its own refund policy. The Lodging Association of the Florida Keys & Key West urges their members to provide refunds of unused nights as soon as local offi- cials issue a visitor evacuation order. The majority of Keys properties subscribe to this standard. Prior to

reserving travel, visitors should have a clear understanding about their lodging facility’s refund policies in the event of a hurricane threat. Travel insurance plans are available from companies that can provide additional fiscal protection. Expedia. com has a “Hassle-Free Hurricane Promise” for travelers that book vacations on their website. If the National Hurricane Center issues a hurricane watch or warning for any destination, Expedia will waive associated Expedia.com cancellation fees and advocate with their travel partners to waive applicable fees and help find new travel options. Why, during an evacuation, are visitors asked to leave while residents can stay? And why must tourists leave so early? Visitors are asked to leave the Keys during any category storm while res- idents are mandated to leave during a severe hurricane of Category 3 or higher. The early egress of visitors is for their own safety. Officials want visitors to have plenty of time to get out of harm’s way as well as to not impede the movement of Keys citizens in the event of a resident

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priority for government and busi- ness owners is to restore facilities so the Keys can once again provide full-service vacation opportunities. Historically, a hurricane only impacts the Keys once in four to five evacuations because the fore- cast error track rate (the projected path of the storm) is so great at the time of the evacuation order. As hurricane forecasting advances, that rate should decrease and hopefully diminish unnecessary evacuations. When can we resume our vacation to the Keys? This depends on several factors. If only a visitor evacuation has been ordered and the storm misses the Keys, visitors often can begin re- turning the day after the threat passes. If both visitor and resident evacuation orders have been issued, and the storm misses the Keys, it might take a few days for visitor facilities to reopen. If the storm impacts the Keys, visitors can begin returning after electricity, road access and other infrastructure, such as transportation and hospitals, are restored. Check the Florida Keys website at fla-keys.com for the latest information concerning the status

evacuation. Also, because of the Keys’ unique nature as a chain of islands, with one highway in and out, the re- gion requires more time to evacuate than other coastal areas. And emer- gency officials must react earlier to avoid impacting possible evacuations of other South Florida communities. In the event a hurricane does impact the Keys, there is high likeli- hood of power outages, temporarily impassable roads and airports that will be temporarily out of service. Most, if not all, hotels will be closed and visitor facilities will not be operational. At that point, the top

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of the Keys as well as the lodging facility where you wish to stay. When I see a satellite picture of a hurricane, it looks like a very large area is being affected. But many times, a much smaller area is significantly affected. Why is this so? Simple. The strongest portion of a tropical cyclone is concentrated around the eye or center of the storm. Typically, hurricane-force winds usually emanate anywhere from 40 to 50 miles from the center, according to the National Hurricane Center. Where can I monitor hurricanes and receive more information? The National Hurricane Center — operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a United States govern- ment agency, monitors hurricanes both in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Its extensive website can be found at www.nhc.noaa.gov. Infor- mation is also provided on Face- book and Twitter (@nhc_atlantic). Other resources to keep up with

the latest changes include: • NOAA Key West National Weather Service Office • NWSKeyWest on Facebook • @NWSKeyWest on Twitter • Monroe County Emergency Management Office: Receive alerts about emergencies and other important communi- ty news by signing up for the Emergency Alert Program, called Alert!Monroe. This system pro- vides critical information quickly in a variety of situations, such as severe weather, emergency road closures, boil water notices, water service interruption, missing per- sons and evacuations of neigh- borhoods. Click here to sign up. • Florida Emergency Information Line at 800-342-3557; Text “FL- Prepares” to 888777 to receive AlertFlorida notifications 

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Hurricane Season Starts June 1 National Hurricane Preparedness Week Perfect Time to Prepare

GETTING READY IS EASY There are simple steps you can take to be prepared: • Create an evacuation plan. Plan what to do in case you are sep- arated from your family during an emergency and if you have to

evacuate. Coordinate your plan with your child’s school, your work and your community’s emergency plans. Plan multiple routes to local shelters, register family members with special med- ical needs as required and make plans for pets. If you already have

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an emergency plan, update it and review with family members so everyone knows what to do if an emergency occurs. a gallon of water per person, per day, non-perishable food, a flashlight, battery-powered radio, first aid kit, medications, supplies for an infant and pets if applicable, a multi-purpose tool, personal hygiene items, copies of important papers, cell phone chargers, extra cash, blankets, maps of the area and emergency contact information. Because of the pandemic, include a mask for everyone in your household. • If you already have a disaster kit, now is the time make sure the food and water is still okay to consume and that copies of im- portant documents are up to date. • Be informed. Find out how local • Build an emergency kit with officials will contact you during a disaster and how you will get important information, such as evacuation orders. • Download the free Red Cross Emergency app to help keep you and your loved ones safe with real-time alerts, open Red

Cross shelter locations and safety advice on hurricanes and other emergencies. • Standard homeowners insur- ance doesn’t cover flooding. It’s important to have protection from the floods associated with hurricanes, tropical storms, heavy rains and other conditions that impact the U.S. For more information on flood insurance, please visit the National Flood Insurance Program website at www.FloodSmart.gov. COVID-19 SAFETY As the pan- demic continues, the Red Cross has procedures and resources in place to

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help ensure everyone’s safety, especial- ly when it comes to supporting local communities if a hurricane threatens. The Red Cross is still providing the same types of support after disasters as we always have. This includes mak- ing sure people have a safe place to stay, food to eat and resources to help them recover. The Red Cross has put in place additional precautions, in line with CDC recommendations, includ- ing social distancing protocols, masks, health screenings and enhanced cleaning procedures.

Ensuring people have a safe place to stay during a disaster is a critical part of the Red Cross mission, but how we support sheltering efforts may be different in each community, depending on local emergency plans and the scale of the disaster. In some instances, we may open group shel- ters, while other times hotels may be more appropriate. “Hurricane season starts June 1 and runs through November 30,” said Valdez. “Get ready now, it’s your best defense.” 

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National PreparednessMonth: ResearchShowsOlder Adults MoreVulnerable inDisasters

P REPARE IN ADVANCE To be prepared, older adults should think about what they would do during a disaster before it occurs. Understand how your medical, phys- ical and cognitive needs may affect your ability to respond if you had to stay in your home for two weeks or

more or had to evacuate. Building a support network and identifying helpers such as family, friends, neigh- bors, caregivers and care providers who may be able to assist is vital. Older adults should meet with these supporters and decide how to com- municate in an emergency.

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Additional research findings and resources, including our new Disaster and Emergency Preparedness for Old- er Adults checklist and booklet, are available at redcross.org/olderadults. DISASTERS DURING A PANDEMIC Preparing for emergencies is a little different this year, but the three basic action steps remain the same for everyone: Build a Kit, Make a Plan and Be Informed. Assemble two kits of emergency supplies (a stay-at- home kit and an evacuation kit) and a one-month supply of prescription medication. Include personal hygiene items, cleaning and disinfectant sup- plies and cloth face coverings. Some supplies may be hard to get due to the pandemic, and availability may worsen in a disaster, so start gather- ing supplies now. Disasters can force people to leave their homes, even in areas under stay-at-home mandates. By having an emergency plan your family can react quickly if a disaster strikes. • Ask friends or relatives outside your area if you would be able to stay with them. • Check and see if they have any COVID-19 symptoms or have

people in their home at higher risk for serious illness. If they do, make other arrangements. • Check with hotels, motels and campgrounds to see if they are open and if pets are allowed. • Due to the pandemic, stay cur- rent on advice and restrictions from your state and local public health authorities as it may affect your actions, available resources and shelter facilities. • Learn first aid and CPR skills so you’ll know what to do until emergency help arrives. • Download the free Red Cross Emergency App for weather alerts and information on what to do before, during and after disasters. Additional resources for preparing during the COVID-19 pandemic are available at redcross.org/coronavirus. VOLUNTEERS NEEDED Severe weather during a pandemic can have an even greater impact on our com- munities and we serve them. As you prepare for disasters, the Red Cross is preparing too. We encourage people to join us by volunteering in their lo- cal community. A variety of positions are available including disaster shelter and health supervisors. Find out more at redcross.org/volunteertoday. 

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Take Steps Now to Prepare for Potential Storms Coming Our Way

• Know the difference between a watch and warning. A WATCH means a hurricane, tropical storm or flooding is possible. A WARNING means conditions are expected with- in 36 hours. Take immediate precautions.

• Get your home ready. Cover windows with storm shutters or plywood. Store outside items, such as lawn furniture and trash cans, to prevent them from being moved by high winds and possibly hurt- ing someone.

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• Tune into your local radio, NOAA radio or news channels for the latest updates. Obey evacuation orders from local officials. • Check your emergency kit and replace any missing items. • Prepare to evacuate quickly and know your routes and destina- tions. • Fill your car’s gas tank, in case an evacuation notice is issued. • Never ride out a severe storm in a mobile home, even if it’s in a non-evacuation zone. • Don’t forget your pets. Bring them indoors and maintain direct control of them. Prepare a pet emergency kit with leashes or carriers, food, water, bowls, cat litter and box, and photos of you with your pet in case you

are separated. • Stay indoors; avoid beaches, riverbanks and floodwaters. Stay alert for extended rainfall and subsequent flooding. Don’t walk, swim or drive through floodwaters. Remember: Turn around, don’t drown. • Use flashlights in the dark if the power goes out. Avoid us- ing candles. Download the free Red Cross Emergency App for real-time weather alerts, open shelters and expert advice on emergency situations. The Emergency App includes an “I’m Safe” feature that helps people check on loved ones. Search “American Red Cross” in app stores, or go to redcross.org/apps. The Red Cross has guidance available in multiple languages on getting prepared while still protect- ing yourself from COVID-19 here. Be Red Cross Ready when the time comes with these preparedness tips available in English, Spanish and Creole. 

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Reentry Vehicle Windshield Stickers The Atlantic hurricane season begins June 1 and runs through Dec. 1. New Reentry Stickers Available for Monroe County Residents

M onroe County residents by providing proof of residency at a Monroe County Tax Collector’s office. Proof of residency includes a Florida Driver’s License and vehicle registra- tion, or a property bill with an out-of- county vehicle registration for out- of-county residents who own a home in Monroe County. These stickers make reentry easier if checkpoints are required to assure safe re-entry into the Keys following a destructive storm that causes a public safety issue. There are no plans to enact a checkpoint for COVID-19.The new system is bar- coded with color-coded stickers for zone-by-zone reentry. may now obtain one sticker for each registered vehicle *Please note: the re-entry sticker zones are different than evacuation zones before a hurricane, which uses five zones in the event of an evacua- tion. Evacuation zones can be found

at www.monroecountyem.com/ evacuation. • Zone 1: Lower Keys residents from the south end of the 7 Mile Bridge to Stock Island (MM 40 to MM 4) will be dark pink • Zone 2: Middle Keys residents from the south end of the Long Key Bridge to the north end of the 7 Mile Bridge (MM 64 to MM 47) are aqua. • Zone 3: Upper Keys residents from the county line including Ocean Reef to the north end of the Long Key Bridge (MM 113 to MM 64) will have a purple decal. • The City of KeyWest requires its own sticker, which is white and has not changed. If you already have a City of KeyWest reentry decal, you do not need to pick up a new one. Where to get reentry stickers Residents from Ocean Reef to Stock Island: Stickers are available at the

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Monroe County Tax Collector’s office locations from 8 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Monday through Friday. Tax Collector Locations: • Key West - 1200 Truman Ave, Ste 101, or the DMV at 3304 N. Roosevelt Blvd • Marathon - 3015 Overseas Hwy • Big Pine Key – 247 Key Deer Blvd (Tuesday through Thursday 9 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.) • Plantation Key - 88800 Overseas Hwy • Key Largo - 101487 Overseas Hwy

Residents who live in Ocean Reef: Stickers are available at Ocean Reef Public Safety, 110 Anchor Dr., Key Largo. Residents in KeyWest: STICK- ERS ARE THE SAME, IF YOU ALREADY HAVE THIS STICKER YOU DO NOT NEED A NEW ONE. If you do not already have a reentry sticker, they are available at Key West City Hall, 1300 White St., or the Key West Police Depart- ment, 1604 North Roosevelt Blvd. The hours are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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Monday through Friday. Stickers will be available through- out the year, but do not wait until a storm is approaching to pick up a sticker. Stickers will not be avail- able once a state of emergency is declared in Monroe County, which occurs several days before a storm is forecast to strike. Placard Reentry Program The Monroe County Placard Re-en- try Program is available to agencies with representation at the Emer-

gency Operations Center (EOC). These agencies can obtain early re-entry placards for their employ- ees from Monroe County Emergen- cy Management. Businesses or organizations willing to provide services essential to the re- covery of the Florida Keys may apply for inclusion through the Business Placard Reentry Program. The plac- ard program enrollment period ends May 31. If you have questions about this program, email luttazi-alary@ monroecounty-fl.gov 

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