Storm season: How to stay informed and prepared in Osceola for hurricanes

Houses were damaged in downtown Kissimmee from Hurricane Charley in 2004, including this home on Mabbette Street.

June 1, officially kicks off hurricane season.

This year’s Atlantic season is expected to produce a near-average number of hurricanes and tropical storms, according to an outlook released in May by NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.

Still, most Floridians say they’re worried about the turbulent season, according to a new survey by AAA Auto Club.

This year’s hurricane outlook

NOAA expects nine to 15 named storms during the season, including four to eight hurricanes and two to four major hurricanes. This is on par with the outlook released in April by Colorado State University, which predicted 13 named storms and five hurricanes.

These outlooks are near or slightly above the 30-year average of 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes. A major hurricane is one that is Category 3 or stronger on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

Floridians are worried about hurricane season

Still, Floridians are becoming more concerned about hurricane season after enduring four major storms in the past three years, including a Category Five last year.

According to a recent AAA survey, 92 percent of Floridians are worried about the 2019 season. Nearly one in five (19 percent) are more concerned than last year, according to a AAA press release.

Despite growing fears, nearly a quarter of Florida residents do not make advanced preparations for hurricane season or severe weather. Based on AAA findings, more than half (62 percent) of Floridians say they would only leave for a Category 3 hurricane or greater.

How to stay informed and prepared in Osceola County

Officials recommend residents stay up to date with any emergency with Alert Osceola, a free reverse 911 and emergency text and email system. Osceola emergency officials use the countywide notification system for major emergencies, boil water notices and other public safety alerts.

There are 13 emergency shelters in Osceola County, including pet-friendly locations and ones for special needs individuals. However, not all shelters are open for all situations, so it’s important to check with each location prior to severe weather to see if it will be open.

A full list of shelters and contact information can be found at the county’s website, Osceola.org.

Osceola County officials encourage residents to utilize social media to stay on top of alerts. You can find the Osceola County Office of Emergency Management on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.  

For more information from the Osceola County Office of Emergency Management on how to plan for disasters, call 407-742-9000.

Other tips to stay prepared

Here are a few additional tips from AAA to help you and your family stay prepared this hurricane season.

 Know your evacuation route – Visit FloridaDisaster.org to track the recommended evacuation route.

 Secure your home – Inspect your home for minor repairs needed to roof, windows and down spouts. Trim trees or bushes that could cause damage in case of high winds.

 Make a plan – Develop a Family Emergency Plan to include ways to contact each other, alternative meeting locations and an out-of-town contact person. Identify a safe room or safest areas in your home. Be sure and include plans for your pets.

 Stock emergency supplies – Plan for a week’s worth of non-perishable food and water. Be sure to have flashlights, extra batteries, battery-powered radio, medications, first aid kit, blankets, toiletries and diapers. You may also want to prepare a portable kit and keep in your car should you evacuate.

 Protect your property – Review your homeowners insurance policy with your insurance agent to determine whether you have adequate protection. Discuss your deductibles. Be aware that flood insurance is not typically covered under your homeowner’s policy.