Washington County Public Safety Director talks hurricane preparedness

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With a busy hurricane season expected this year, local emergency officials are prepared and taking precautions.

Washington County Public Safety Director Lynne Abel recently shared her perspective with Washington County News.

“The Washington County EOC (Emergency Operations Center) staff has attended classes and participated in training and exercises in preparation for the 2024 hurricane season,” Abel said. “We are collaborating with the Florida Division of Emergency Management team on various planning, response, and recovery opportunities new to the state.”

Several additional training courses and classes were scheduled.  

“Web-based programs used to communicate with the state have been updated and our team is actively working to familiarize ourselves with those resources,” Abel said. “We have updated our Statewide Mutual Aid agreement, updated emergency contact lists, and continue to review local plans and protocols.”

Ongoing discussions are occurring with local, state, and federal partners to be prepared for the season and respond to a hurricane if necessary, Abel further said. 

“Citizens are encouraged to take advantage of the Florida Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax (FDPST) Holiday which began June 1 and will continue through June 14,” Abel continued. “This is an opportunity to purchase emergency supplies tax-free during the first of two 14-day FDPST Holidays. For a full disaster supply checklist, visit floridadisaster.org/kit.”

During hurricane season, vehicles should always have at least half a tank of gas so there is enough fuel to evacuate without the worry of long lines at gas stations or potential shortages, according to Abel.

“Evacuations do not have to be hundreds of miles away,” Abel said. “Going to a friend or family member’s home outside the watch or warning area, even its only tens of miles away is most often sufficient.”

 Washington County residents can sign up for weather alerts on their home or mobile phones by going to alertwashington.org or calling 850-638-6203 Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.