Hurricanes are nature’s most Severe Storms. While hurricane season runs from June 1- November 30, the most active part of the season is August-October. Knowing the serious warnings associated with hurricanes helps you to plan ahead for the safety and security of your property, your family, and your pets.
A hurricane watch is issued when a hurricane poses a threat to coastal areas, generally within 36 hours. Everyone in the area should listen for further advisories and be prepared to act promptly if a hurricane warning or evacuation order is issued. A hurricane warning is issued when winds of 74 mph or higher, or a combination of dangerously high water and very rough seas are expected in a specific coastal area within 24 hours. When a hurricane warning is issues, all precautions should be completed immediately. If the hurricane’s path is unusual or erratic, the warning may be issued only a few hours before the beginning of hurricane conditions.
Stay informed of storm warnings by listening to NOAA Weather Radio. NOAA Weather Radio broadcast National Weather Service warnings, watches, forecasts, and other hazard information 24 hours a day. A battery- or crank-powered radio is an essential part of any storm survival kit. Always be prepared to take action and consider any hurricane or tornado warning or watches to be serious and make plans to protect your family and property immediately.
Returning Home After Evacuation
If you had to leave your home, return only when local authorities tell you it is safe to do so, and return with caution. Structural damage, household dangers, and utility hazards may be present when you arrive. When you first return home, check the outside of your home for structural damage, then check inside. Always sniff for gas leaks and if you detect the odor or hear hissing gas, leave the property immediately and call the fire department using a cellular telephone or a neighbor’s phone. Always be aware, too, of rodents and wild animals that may have taken shelter in or around your home.
If you see sparks or frayed/damaged electrical wires in your house, or if you smell hot insulation, turn off the electricity at the fuse box or circuit breaker. Be careful not to stand in water—event a puddle—to touch your circuit breaker. If you need help checking your electricity or repairing it, call a professional electrician for help.
If you have been told by the FGUA or other authorities that sewer lines were damaged (or if you suspect so yourself), avoid using sinks, showers, or toilets and contact the FGUA immediately. If water pipes are damaged, turn off the water at the main valve and call a plumber for assistance.
If the disaster was widespread, the water utility service may have been damage or disrupted by the storm, or it may be operating with less pressure than usual. FGUA will notify customers by Reverse 911 telephone notification and door hanger of any disruptions of service or advisories. If you are unsure about the safety of the water, please visit the FGUA “Outages and Notices” page at fgua.com, or visit our Facebook Page (facebook.com/fguaINFO), where a list of current outages following a major storm will be posted. Please note that Advisories are first posted on our website and Facebook Page, before Reverse 911 notices are delivered. FGUA will also send media advisories to local television or radio stations with instructions about the safety of the water supply and whether you have to take special precautions such as Boil Water Notice before using the water. If you experience an outage and you have not been contacted by Reverse 911 phone call or door hanger, and an outage is not reported on our website or Facebook page, please fill out an FGUA Comment Form or call your local Customer Service Office as listed below:
|Hardee and Lee||Lee County||(239) 543-1005|
|Lee (Lehigh Acres Customers)||Lee County||(239) 368-1615|
|Pasco||New Port Richey||(727) 372-0115|
|All Other Counties||Lady Lake||(877) 657-8889 or (352) 633-9700|
Following a storm, FGUA may experience high call volumes, so we appreciate your patience until we can take your call.
The FGUA is committed to keeping your water supply safe during a catastrophic event. We issue Boil Water Notices to each household and business in the event extra precautions are needed, and we carefully inspect and test the water infrastructure and supply before we allow you to return to normal consumption.
After the Storm
In the event of a water emergency, make sure you know how to protect yourself and your family. There are five different instances in which you may be required to boil water for safety.
- Microbiological Contamination: Occurs when water samples show the presence of harmful bacteria
- Zero or Negative Pressure: Occurs when we experience equipment failure or power outages, forcing the water to stop flowing.
- Low Water Pressure: Usually results from cracked or damaged pipes that could potentially allow contamination to enter the public water or excess capacity issues.
- Water Main Breaks/Interruptions: Boil Water Notices must be issued in these cases because there is a possibility of contamination due to a loss of water pressure.
- Well Flooding: This occurs when the water supply well overflows, causing easy access for harmful bacteria.
To protect your family against potentially harmful bacteria in these rare situations, simply bring all water used for cooking or drinking to a rolling boil for one minute. These 60 seconds are enough time to effectively kill any active bacteria and make the water safe for cooking and drinking. As an alternative, you may use bottled water.
Your health is our greatest concern. If your residence or business is ever under a Boil Water Notice, you will be notified of the Advisory and Rescission Notices by Reverse 911 Notficiation, door hanger (when weather conditions are safe, and if the service area is under 300 affected customers), the FGUA Outages and Notices web page, and Facebook. It is also possible that your media outlets may provide updates on the status of FGUA advisories, as well.
Portions of this article are adopted from “Hurricane 101,” by Chris Floyd, American Red Cross and “Picking Up the Pieces After a Disaster,” by American Red Cross Services, www.redcross.org.