In the wake of a possible hurricane, local agencies prepare and inform the public of the steps they need to take to protect themselves, their families and their homes.

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MILTON — In the wake of a possible hurricane, local agencies say residents can take steps to protect themselves, their families and their homes.

Hurricane Irma is approaching Florida as a Category 5 storm at approximately 400 miles in diameter. The path is unpredictable, but preparation is key when it comes to making it through a storm as powerful as this one. Irma should reach Florida late this weekend or early next week. Two additional storms, Katia and Jose, are following close behind.

The Santa Rosa Board of County Commissioners released a statement with five simple things residents can do to prepare for the possible impact. According to the statement, the most important thing is to locate your evacuation zone, which can be done at santarosagis.maps.arcgis.com.

“All mobile home residents would be advised to evacuate, regardless of location, in the event of a storm,” the statement said. “If you need help, contact Emergency Management, (850) 983-5360. Decide NOW where you would go if ordered to evacuate — a friend or relative's home, a hotel or as a last resort, a public shelter.

“Remember, if you are going to leave the area or go to a hotel, don't delay. Determine your route, leave early and travel the shortest distance possible. Think tens of miles, not hundreds.”

The commissioners also urged residents to purchase a battery-powered weather radio and non-electric landline phone; to stock up on supplies for family members and pets; test tools like generators, window air conditioners, and chainsaws; do the chores you can’t do without power, like laundry; and top off your gas tank.

According to Brad Baker, the director of Santa Rosa County Emergency Management, he suggests prepping your home and family to sustain at least 72 hours without power. Baker said it is important to secure items in your yard that could become dangerous debris with high winds, stock up on non-perishable food items, water, toiletries, etc., and if possible, put up storm shutters.

“Get ready to ride it out,” Baker said.

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Residents with pets are urged not to leave them behind when evacuating. Santa Rosa County has a pet-friendly shelter, but residents must pre-register their pets by visiting www.santarosa.fl.gov/resident-services/index.cfm?Menu=139. When evacuating to pet-friendly hotels, remember to bring your pet’s vaccination records.

Some airlines, like JetBlue, are capping air fare as low as $99 for non-stop flights to and from Florida before and after Irma. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved an emergency fuel waiver allowing fuel to enter the state more quickly, according to Gov. Rick Scott.


Scott also lifted all tolls on state roads since Tuesday afternoon, lasting until the storm passes, stating that “ensuring the safety of Florida families and visitors is our top priority and suspending tolls statewide will help people quickly evacuate and make it easier for all Floridians to access important hurricane supplies to ensure they are fully prepared.”