After a very active 2004 hurricane season, it is never too soon to make plans for this year. All the experts and emergency planners are stressing the importance of early preparation.
Most people are very aware when a hurricane is about to hit. They know to board up windows, listen to weather reports and evacuate if they need to, but many don’t plan their evacuations and there are still others who have no way to leave.
If you have special medical needs or are “transportation disadvantaged”, you need to call the Emergency Operations Center and get on the Special Needs List. This means you will be evacuated to a storm shelter and then returned home after the danger passes.
Bob Majka is Bay County’s EOC Director and says, “You certainly don’t want to wait until there is an emergency and contact us because at that point in time our resources may be very limited. We certainly will do everything we can humanly do to get out there and provide you with emergency transportation to an approved shelter, but sign up now. It will be too late when a storm approaches.”
As Hurricane Ivan approached the Pensacola coast last year, Bay County law enforcement had to turn away people here who hadn’t made earlier arrangements. At that point their primary job is making sure evacuations go smoothly, not shuttling people to shelters.
Majka reminds everyone, “At 55 miles per hour sustained wind speed, we close all the bridges in Bay County. You won’t have a choice at that point, and as we have learned in the past this can happen very quickly.”
The best option is to find a friend or a family member who can help you evacuate. Mike says the county’s EOC list should be a last resort.
The phone number is 784-4000.