For South Floridians, it isn’t news that hurricanes are a fact of life. Powerful storms have caused property damage and, sadly, many deaths with frightening regularity—including the 1919 hurricane in Key West that killed more than 800 people; Hurricane Andrew, which caused $25 million in damage in 1992, and the last, Hurricane Wilma, in 2005. Although it’s been eight years since Wilma made landfall, it’s important that managers and residents stay in a constant state of alert and prepare for what could easily happen again, even if this hurricane season it doesn’t. For some communities, this means preparing as if something were to happen, even if nothing is going to.
“People do get complacent,” says Fort Lauderdale Battalion Chief Jo-Ann Lorber. “But now after Hurricane Sandy, people are becoming more aware again.”
Hurricane Sandy didn’t touch down in the South Florida region but it made its mark on the United States by hitting the northeast region and causing almost $75 billion in damage. “Getting people educated is a slow process, but our fire prevention group teaches what they need to know,” says Lorber.
Prior to hurricane season, which begins on June 1, Lorber is educating members of the community about hurricane preparedness by attending homeowner association meetings and conducting preparedness talks. “If you have floods, you try to recover from that and mitigate, or learn, from the past and how to prepare yourself for the future, including putting up barriers and getting sandbags if you live in a low-lying area,” she says.
Every year, in advance of the hurricane season, Bill Worrall, vice president of The Continental Group in Hollywood, also conducts hurricane preparation seminars with property managers throughout Florida. “We talk about best practices of all the components which each community should have in its hurricane preparedness plan,” he says.