1. Hurricane

Hurricane 2019: You don’t have to spend a fortune to get ready for a hurricane

His the discount stores, looked for used goods and buy a little bit at a time before a big storm, says the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council.
The St. Petersburg Lowe's was once filled with plywood, but that stock quickly sold out in September 2017 as Hurricane Irma approached. [DIVYA KUMAR | Tampa Bay Times] [DIVYA KUMAR]
Published Jun. 7
Updated Aug. 30

As hurricane season begins, careful planning is critical for all of us to come through a major storm safely.

Hurricane Michael last year and 2017’s Hurricane Irma were both reminders of how vulnerable we could be if a hurricane hits, so now’s the time to get ready. Don’t wait until August, or until a tropical depression is forming in the Atlantic Ocean. And certainly don’t wait until there’s nothing left in the stores and winds are starting to pick up.

HURRICANE SEASON IS HERE: Get ready and stay informed at

Not only does planning ahead give you more time to make sure your hurricane checklist is completed, it can save you money. The Federal Emergency Management Agency offers these tips for cost-conscious hurricane preparedness:

• Look for used and discount emergency items: Certain emergency supplies such as radios and flashlights don’t necessarily need to be purchased new or at full price. Of course, make sure such supplies are in good working condition.

Marshall Flynn is the director of information systems and GIS at the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council. [Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council] [TAMPA BAY REGIONAL PLANNING COUNCIL]

• Store water: Purchasing commercially bottled water is recommended, but not always economically feasible. Start washing out and saving two-liter soft drink bottles now, so there are plenty on hand to fill with tap water when a storm is approaching.

• Spread out your emergency preparedness shopping: Buying batteries one week, a giant jar of peanut butter the next, then canned tuna, and so on, is easier on the wallet than purchasing everything at once.

• Check out dollar and discount stores: They offer items at a low cost, from cleaning products to coloring books for the kids that would come in handy if the power goes off.

• Clean out your gutters and drains: Make sure that water isn’t collecting on the roof and around your home in rainstorms, which can mean less damage and fewer costly repairs if a major storm hits.

In addition to checking out information from sources like and this hurricane guide, check out the county-specific guides offered by Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco, Citrus, Hernando and Manatee counties. Each includes information such as shelter addresses and updates on evacuation zones.

Along with reading the hurricane guides, now’s the best time to familiarize yourself with the emergency preparedness section of your city’s or county’s websites. Many include such useful information as:

• A link to sign up for emergency alerts.

• A place where residents with special needs can register so they can have emergency officials help them evacuate should the need arise.

• Sandbag distribution sites.

It’s up to all of us to work together and do our homework as hurricane season begins. Let’s be ready for the next major storm.

Marshall Flynn is the director of information systems and GIS at the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council.

2019 Tampa Bay Times Hurricane Guide

HURRICANE SEASON IS HERE: Get ready and stay informed at

PREPARE YOUR STUFF: Get your documents and your data ready for a storm

BUILD YOUR KIT: The stuff you’ll need to stay safe — and comfortable — for the storm

PROTECT YOUR PETS: Your pets can’t get ready for a storm. That’s your job

NEED TO KNOW: Click here to find your evacuation zone and shelter

What Michael taught the Panhandle and Tampa Bay

What the Panhandle’s top emergency officials learned from Michael

‘We’re not going to give up.’ What a school superintendent learned from Michael.

What Tampa Bay school leaders fear most from a storm

Tampa Bay’s top cops fear for those who stay behind


  1. The projected path of Nestor National Hurricane Center
    Nestor is expected to dump two to four inches of rain in Tampa Bay, along with the threat of tornadoes.
  2. The projected path for Tropical Storm Nestor, according to the National Hurricane Center. National Hurricane Center
    Tampa Bay should expect wind and rain tonight into Saturday morning, according to the National Weather Service
  3. The sun sets over a slab which once served as a foundation for a home on Mexico Beach in May. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Area leaders fear lower population numbers will lead to reduced federal funding and political representation.
  4. The projected path for Potential Tropical Cyclone 16, according to the National Hurricane Center. National Hurricane Center
    Thunderstorms have been spotted off the west coast of Florida as Potential Tropical Cyclone 16 moves over the central Gulf of Mexico.
  5. The tropical disturbance in the Gulf of Mexico that’s projected to strengthen as it approaches Florida could put a crimp ― or much worse ― in Tampa Bay’s weekend plans. National Hurricane Center
    The National Weather Service warns that the Gulf of Mexico disturbance could strengthen and bring wind, rain and possibly tornadoes to the bay area.
  6. A broad area of low pressure headed toward the Gulf of Mexico will bring wind, rain and possibly tornadoes to the Tampa Bay area this weekend. National Hurricane Center
    The National Hurricane Center has issued a storm surge watch for Florida’s Gulf Coast from Indian Pass to Clearwater.
  7. This satellite image shows Hurricane Michael on Oct. 9, 2018, as it enters the Gulf of Mexico. It made landfall near Mexico Beach in the Panhandle as a Category 5 storm. Florida State University professor Wenyuan Fan said the storm probably created "stormquakes" offshore in the gulf, too. [Photo courtesy of the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration]] NOAA
    Analysis of a decade of records shows hurricanes causing seismic activity on continental shelf
  8. Tropical depression 15 has formed in the eastern Atlantic. National Weather Service
    The newly formed system joins a tropical wave off the coast of South America.
  9. Peggy Wood, center, attends a community announcement with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, right, in Mexico Beach in September. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The Wood family presses forward with plans to rebuild the Driftwood Inn amid a changing town.
  10.  Mexico Beach, one year anniversary of the landfall of Hurricane Michael. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    One year later, Mexico Beach is still recovering from the Category 5 storm.