Hurricanes on Your Own

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There's been a major shift in the thinking of local state and federal emergency planners. Once a storm hits you'll be on your own for the first 72 hours.

It's one of the byproducts of last year's response to Hurricane Katrina.

Rodney Andreasen, Jackson County EOC Director, said, "72 hours is usually the benchmark. It could be up to two weeks. Local emergency management will respond after the storm."

And that's only if the resources are available.

"Those first 72 hours, particularly after a catastrophic event, you're not going to have 9-1-1. You're not going to have police officers, firefighters, paramedics at your beck and call because their homes will have been destroyed too."

Many people live with the theory of "I rode out the last storm and I'll ride out this one.” With experts predicting another busy hurricane season, it's better to be safe than sorry.

"Everybody says well there's only going to be five major hurricanes this year. It only takes one to ruin your day and to kill people."

But many people still don't prepare for hurricane season. Despite eight deadly major storms hitting Florida in two years, a recent poll found that a third of Floridians don't even have a hurricane survival kit.

Mark Bowen, Bay County Emergency Services Director, said, "It's disappointing to people in our profession that more of our citizens don't take this seriously. When we say one gallon of water per day per person in the household for up to 10 days, we mean that."

So once again, officials are stressing the importance of hurricane kits, evacuation routes and general preparation.

"The key words are planning, planning and planning."

Because if a big storm does hit, that planning may be the only thing that saves you and your family.

The Hurricane Center is predicting that 16 named storms will form in the Atlantic basin this year, including four to six major hurricanes.