Hillsborough County is sharing ways to make sure you and your family are prepared this hurricane season.
There are storm shelters all over Hillsborough County but there's a chance the one closest to your house may not be open, depending on the event. It's important to pay attention to which ones are open if a storm were coming. Remember the space you get is limited so don't bring a lot of unnecessary items. Click here to find a current list of all shelters.
"So this year, we're still going to be practicing COVID considerations with our shelters, we're going to have 47 general population shelters. The openings of those are obviously dependent upon an event. So it's important that the community look out for those announcements to make sure that they're going to the correct shelters, if they need to evacuate, they will still be asked to wear masks, practice social distancing, as much as possible," explains Katya Miller with Hillsborough County Emergency Preparedness.
Hillsborough County has a big orange machine that helps you fill sandbags.
"So in previous years, I want to say we went about 200,000 bags that we put out. So in the production, we made them, we gave them out. And this learning from our past experiences, we have about 10,000 pre-made," explains Chris Sands with Hillsborough County.
Countywide there are six of the machines available.
One of the most important things you can do is have a hurricane kit stocked and ready to go. So, if a hurricane were to approach Tampa Bay, you can grab it.
"Build a hurricane preparedness kit and build it early, review it every year. You know, stock it with your nonperishables, make sure they're not expired, have plenty of protein to last you a couple days," says Katherine Patino with USF CERT. "Make sure that you have your medical information, insurance cards, cash on hand supplies for your pets, if you have any kids, bring some games for them. And make sure you have your weather radio in case the electricity goes out and the need for communication, batteries, flashlights, first aid kits, and make sure that you have a checklist that you can go through and make sure you just have official communication, just in case your internet goes out."
You can read more about packing your kit, here.
If you need to evacuate your pet, make sure you have a plan for your pet, too. If you take them to a pet shelter, remember you will not be in the same room as them.
Lauryn Postiglione, Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center, says, "you want to make sure that you have enough food and water for them for seven days, make sure you have bowls for that as well. If there's a favorite toy or blanket have that for them. Because it's a very high-stress area, you're not going to be able to stay with your pet if you have to go to a pet-friendly shelter. So having those items for them is just a little bit of comfort in a stressful situation."
Find out more planning for your pet, here.
Get ahead of the game and check your neighborhood for any debris in ditches and storm drains. Hillsborough County will come out and clean out the debris to prevent any flood. Call 813-635-5400 to report an issue.