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SSPOA Committee Members
Cornelis H. Pameijer
As a result of the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma in September 2017, the Board of Directors of the Sugarloaf Shores Property Owners Association formed a committee to formulate a report that would serve as a guideline to SSPOA’s members and Sugarloaf Shore residents, in general, with regards to what to expect and what to do when the Florida Keys are hit by another storm. This report by no means is intended to be complete or applicable to every person or household, and merely serves as a guide.
The report focuses on three topics:
1. Pre-hurricane preparations
1.1 General housekeeping
1.2 Boat safe keeping
2. What to have; the dos and don’ts during a hurricane
2.2 Additional precautions
2.3 During a hurricane and the immediate aftermath
3. Post-hurricane actions
3.1 Community First Responders
3.2 Documentation and precaution
3.4 Illegal dumping
Preparation of property
Follow the general rule: If you can pick it up, the wind can as well. Please store it in a safe place or tie down.
1.1 General housekeeping
a. Put trash cans inside
b. Inspect and close hurricane shutters
c. Tie down anything that is loose or bring inside (kayak, canoes, etc.)
d. Move your car to higher ground. A bridge embankment and the Sugarloaf School are suitable locations. You will not be ticketed or towed unless you make a roadway totally impassable for emergency vehicles, fire trucks etc.
e. Turn off water at the street. If water heater is electric, turn off breaker.
f. Empty freezer and refrigerator, unplug, and leave lid/door ajar.
g. Turning off electricity is optional. The power will most likely fail, but when it comes back on, your AC will kick in and help with removing moisture. Unplug sensitive electronics.
h. Check your neighbor’s property and consider addressing the above items if residence is unoccupied. Make sure you have permission.
i. Photograph and video house and property prior to storm for insurance and documentation purposes.
j. If possible, trim trees and remove coconuts prior to the storm as they may present a safety hazard.
k. Fuel up your vehicle(s) and keep your tank(s) full as a storm approaches.
l. Have a well-supplied medical kit. Make sure you have a sufficient supply of medication for each individual for at least 3-4 weeks.
m. Fill a cooler with ice.
n. Do all of your laundry.
o. Consider covering dryer exhaust to prevent water intake.
p. Get extra food and medications for your animals.
q. A basic supply of tools is recommended: chainsaw with chain oil and gas, hammer, crowbar, hand saw, etc.
r. Freeze large Ziploc bags of water that will last much longer than cubes.
s. Fill bathtub(s) with water.
1.1 Boat Safe Keeping
Safe keeping of your boat differs between individuals. It depends on whether you have a boat lift, davits, a trailer, etc. One of the following options may be best for your particular situation.
a. Pull your boat on a trailer when you evacuate. Possibly the safest way.
b. Tie your boat down on a trailer and tie down your trailer.
c. Tie down your boat on a boat lift. Extra cleats on the seawall on either side of your boat, if available, have been successful in stabilizing boats.
d. Be aware that most losses of boats from hurricanes were experienced when you have davits.
Evacuation is mandatory when ordered. Do not take this order lightly.
Instructions and brochures are available advising what is required to plan for hurricane evacuation.
Make sure you have an evacuation/re-entry sticker on the window shield of your vehicle. This can be obtained from the county or sheriff’s office.
Do not leave pets behind.
2 If you do not evacuate
If you decide to stay behind when an evacuation order has been issued, you must know that for days emergency personnel have no obligation or will not even be available to help you. There will likely be no wellness checks by law enforcement personnel. If you decide to stay, find out who is doing likewise.
From experience, we know that the Internet will be out, cell phones will not work, and a satellite phone may or may not offer communication.
A VHF radio like that on a boat would be an option.
Chances are you will have no water, electricity, sewer service, etc. Consider all convenient services we rely upon to be out for days or weeks.
Winds over 130 mph will drive water into your house via soffit vents, exhaust fan vents and sliding doors and windows.
For more information about hurricane preparedness, visit these websites:
US Government - https://www.ready.gov/
National Hurricane Center - https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/
National Weather Service Key West - https://www.weather.gov/key/
2.3 During a hurricane and in the immediate aftermath
SSPOA will make every effort to keep residents informed of the situation by email and Facebook. After Irma, a lack of communication was by far the biggest problem. The county is examining possibilities that will help preserve government communications and speed up restoration of public communications.
SSPOA intends to have at least two contact persons who will be in charge of communicating with its members. The committee is looking into possibilities to have these persons be in direct contact with the officials that are in charge.
Even with less severe hurricanes, there is always a danger that a storm surge can wash out the approaches to one or more of the bridges in the Keys and the weight of the bridge then “popping” it. If that were to happen, you will be on your own for some time and have to be self-sufficient. The sheriff’s staff will then act as emergency service provider.
3.1 Community First Responder
Monroe County is discussing forming a Community First Responder program. A responder would be allowed re-entry before a green light is given to all residents to return. The idea here is to have eyes on the ground to assess the damage and assist official first responder in answering questions and communicate with residents before their return. This will require substantial training and is a volunteer program. If the idea is implemented by the county, SSPOA is planning to participate in the training program and plans on reaching out to interested residents of Sugarloaf Shores.
3.2. Documentation and precautions
3.3. Cleaning up
One of the biggest problem post-Irma was the cleaning of yard debris and household items.
It will be assumed that homeowners will be allowed to put these in the right-of-way of their property (not on the road as frequently happened).
Strict separation of yard debris, metal and household items is mandatory.
Please observe the following:
- Place different types of debris in separate piles (e.g. landscape, construction, household items, etc.).
- Put piles away from overhead power lines and fire hydrants to facilitate pickup.
- Put piles away from FKAA water meter box at street to avoid possible damage to box.
- Do not place your debris in another person’s yard or empty lot without the owner’s permission.
- Do not bring your debris to Sugarloaf Blvd., South Point Drive or US 1.
3.4 Illegal dumping
Another problem was illegal dumping. We propose very large “NO DUMPING” signs and residents checking at the entrance of the boulevard and South Point, armed with cameras to document commercial trucks entering from US 1. SSPOA will contact Monroe County and request the immediate designation of staging areas for dumping debris. Emphasis should be placed on routing dump trucks to the Cudjoe Key transfer station on Blimp Road, where dumping without a fee will (most likely) be allowed.
Announcements that illegal dumping will result in fines should be posted at the entrance of South Point and the boulevard.
SSPOA will organize community cleanups of Sugarloaf Blvd. and South Point Drive after most debris has been picked up by the county.
Information from Monroe County Emergency Management
A hurricane is a tropical storm with winds that have reached a constant speed of 74 miles per hour or more. The eye of a storm is usually 20-30 miles wide and may extend over 400 miles. The dangers of a storm include torrential rains, high winds and storm surges. A hurricane can last for two weeks or more over open water and can run a path across the entire length of the eastern seaboard.
For information on hurricanes, contact the Monroe County Information Hot Line at (800) 955-5504 or view our hurricane tips.
Florida is the hurricane capital of the United States and no matter where you live in the Sunshine State, you are vulnerable to the effects of a hurricane. History teaches that a lack of hurricane awareness and preparation are common threads among hurricane disasters. By knowing your vulnerability and what actions you should take, you can reduce the effects of a hurricane disaster. Pre-season forecasts can estimate how many storms may develop within a given season, but they cannot tell where storms will make landfall.
Now is the time to make preparations so that you can protect yourself, your home and your business in the event that tropical system threatens your area. Residents and visitors should stay informed of the latest information during an approaching storm by monitoring a trusted local information outlet, and knowing when to put your family disaster plan into action. The best way for residents to make their families, homes and businesses safer is to be prepared before a disaster happens.
A personal disaster plan and a well-stocked disaster supply kit are essential tools to ensure your family’s safety and security during a hurricane. Residents and businesses can prepare for the Atlantic hurricane season now by going to the Florida Division of Emergency Management, where you can create a personal disaster plan and a business disaster plan.
Building a disaster supply kit is a simple and effective way to make sure a family has enough water, food, medicine and other essential supplies when other resources may not be readily available. Different families have different needs, so residents need to be sure to take into account their family’s specific needs.
Another important outlet you can use to help your family prepare for this hurricane season is www.KidsGetAPlan.com. This fun, interactive website presents basic weather safety and emergency preparedness concepts through age-appropriate activities and stories. While online, kids can play games that teach them how to build a disaster supply kit and understand other essential safety facts.
Tropical system hazards come in many forms, including storm surge, high winds, tornadoes, and flooding. These are all threats to the Sunshine State during hurricane season and this means it is important for your family to have a plan that includes all of these hazards. The National Hurricane Center will issue tropical storm and hurricane watches and warnings when these conditions are:
Hurricane Preparedness Tips