Tuesday, August 14, 2018
Tampa Bay Hurricane Guide

Hurricane 2018: Pinellas County gears up for storm season

LARGO — Improving the evacuation process was the biggest lesson learned in Hurricane Irma, Pinellas emergency officials said Thursday.

Interim Emergency Management Director David Halstead said although the department got out evacuation information last year during Irma, they will be pushing the information more often and sooner.

Communication with the shelters will also increase to make sure the timing matches up with evacuations, Halstead said.

"We can’t ask people to evacuate at 9 a.m. and not have the shelters open until (noon)," Halstead said.

HURRICANE GUIDE: Emergency information, tracking map and storm resources

The county just finished a six-day hurricane preparedness exercise that began June 1, the official start of hurricane season. The exercise brought everyone together to run through the motions to make sure each department is on the same page. Then each shared the lessons they learned:

LATEST FORECAST: Good news in latest hurricane forecast: 2018 could be average

Department of Utilities

Irma brought massive power outages, said Megan Ross, interim director of utilities.

One area of concern is maintaining power at the more than 300 sewage lift stations. So the department has 25 powerful generators that can be deployed anywhere. Software accessible from each truck will help workers monitor where the problems are.

Department of Animal Services

During Irma, animal services sheltered over 2,000 animals throughout the storm, James McGill, Enforcement Division Manager, said.

Animal services created pet friendly shelters for severe storms right after the 2004 hurricane season, but they didn’t have to use it until last year.

In preparation for another severe storm, the previous emergency team of five has been increased to eight who are on standby if a hurricane arrives.

Previously, pet owners had to fill out a form in advanced of dropping of their animal at an emergency pet friendly shelter. But, McGill said, during Irma it slowed the process down so now owners will just have to fill out a form to drop off when they arrive.

Consumer Protection

Doug Templeton, operations manager, works to make sure there is no price gouging on basic items and unlicensed contractors.

He said unlicensed contracting makes up 35 percent of reports his department gets. Though Irma didn’t cause a spike with fraudulent contractors or the price of water, food and other basic necessities, Templeton said it is always a high concern during any storm and is something they closely monitor.

Templeton urged citizens to share if they ever experience price gouging or unlicensed contractors asking for work to ensure that their team can investigate.

2018 TAMPA BAY TIMES HURRICANE GUIDE: LESSONS FROM IRMA

CHARLIE FRAGO: How to (barely) survive a week without power

COLLEEN WRIGHT: I took shelter from Irma. Here’s what I learned.

WAVENEY ANN MOORE: How I took care of my mother during Irma

MOLLY MOORHEAD: How to hunker down when you’re not evacuating

CAITLIN JOHNSTON: Evacuating? Drive tens of miles — not hundreds

Comments
Subtropical Storm Ernesto forms in north Atlantic

Subtropical Storm Ernesto forms in north Atlantic

The fifth named storm of the 2018 hurricane season has formed far off in the north Atlantic and poses no threat to land.As of Wednesday at 11 a.m., Subtropical Storm Ernesto had maximum sustained winds of 40 mph with higher gusts and was about 695 mi...
Updated: 27 minutes ago
NOAA now predicting below-normal Atlantic hurricane season in 2018

NOAA now predicting below-normal Atlantic hurricane season in 2018

Hurricane experts with the federal government downgraded their predictions on Thursday for the rest of hurricane season, saying there’s a 60 percent chance the final months will bring below-average storm activity.That’s a significant shift from origi...
Published: 08/09/18
Hurricane Maria death toll of 1,427 in Puerto Rico far exceeds earlier estimates

Hurricane Maria death toll of 1,427 in Puerto Rico far exceeds earlier estimates

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Puerto Rico is now estimating that Hurricane Maria killed more than 1,400 people, far more than the official death toll of 64, in a report to Congress seeking billions to help the island recover from the devastating storm. The...
Published: 08/09/18
Tropical Storm Debby forecast to fizzle out in north Atlantic

Tropical Storm Debby forecast to fizzle out in north Atlantic

A subtropical system has transitioned into Tropical Storm Debby, but it is not expected to impact land as it meanders far out in the north Atlantic.As of 5 a.m. Wednesday, the storm had maximum sustained winds of 45 mph and was located about 1,175 mi...
Published: 08/08/18
Subtropical Storm Debby forms in north Atlantic

Subtropical Storm Debby forms in north Atlantic

Subtropical Storm Debby formed in the north Atlantic Tuesday morning, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. It is expected to be a short-lived storm that will dissipate after a few days. As of 11 a.m., Debby was reported to be centered abo...
Published: 08/07/18
Cool Atlantic could mean a weaker hurricane season

Cool Atlantic could mean a weaker hurricane season

Can you tell the difference between one degree Celsius?Hurricanes can. At least that’s what Colorado State University researcher Phil Klotzbach is banking on.His team released its last hurricane forecast of the 2018 season on Thursday, and Klotzbach ...
Published: 08/02/18
Check out this online tool to see how sea-level rise will impact your flood risk

Check out this online tool to see how sea-level rise will impact your flood risk

Here’s a fun online gadget for a sobering task:FloodIQ.com is a web site created by the nonprofit First Street Foundation to help users visualize how rising sea levels are expected to affect your risk of flooding — not only now, but up to 15 years in...
Updated one month ago