TAMPA, Fla. — Tampa city leaders are urging residents to take action today to prepare for what could be an active 2019 hurricane season.
Along with a plan, officials stressed how important it is for residents to heed evacuation warnings.
“I have heard hundreds of reasons why people don’t want to evacuate but the one consistent statement I hear from anyone who has weathered a hurricane, is ‘I’ll never do that again,’" Tampa Mayor Jane Castor said. “You have to listen to the authorities if the evacuated order is given, it needs to be heeded by our citizens.”
After Hurricane Michael some of the hardest hit areas didn’t have cell phone coverage.
Leaders said they learned mistakes from that storm and are already working on ways to keep lines of communication up if cell phone towers are destroyed.
Since 2016, four hurricanes have made landfall in Florida. In 2016, Hurricane Hermine and Hurricane Matthew devastated parts of the state. In 2017, at some point nearly the entire state of Florida was in the path of Hurricane Irma. And in 2018, a rare category five Hurricane Michael wiped the small town of Mexico Beach off the map.
So far, Tampa Bay has been lucky to avoid a direct hit in recent history. That nearly changed in 2017.
"Hurricane Irma — we dodged a bullet,” Brian LaMarre the National Weather Service Tampa Bay Meteorologist-in-Charge said. “We dodged that bullet by about 30 miles, when you think about the size of hurricanes is not a lot. But, 30 miles is all that came between the city of Tampa and about 20 feet of water.”
Residents should also take advantage of the 2019 Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday which runs from Friday, May 31 through Thursday, June 6. During the sales tax holiday period, qualifying items related to disaster preparedness are exempt from sales tax. For a list of tax exempt items click here.
Residents are also reminded to sign up for the City of Tampa’s emergency notifications system Alert Tampa by clicking here. Time-critical notifications will be sent directly to your home phone, mobile phone or email based on your personal preference.
Residents may also receive notices via Twitter by following @AlertTampa, or receive text alerts with severe weather updates, safety tips, and emergency information by texting TAMPAREADY to 888-777.