LEE COUNTY, Fla .– Local emergency centers are preparing for Tropical Storm Elsa. Fox 4’s Rachel Loyd spoke to Emergency Management Chief Lee Mayfield. He was Lee County’s director of public safety and emergency management when Hurricane Irma hit in 2017. He explained where you can turn in a storm in Southwest Florida.
Rachel: Hurricane Elsa has gone from a hurricane to a tropical storm, but now is not the time for people to let their guard down. What should people be doing this weekend to prepare for the storm that could come?
Lee: Of course, there are a lot of variables when it comes to determining precisely where these impacts can be in the state of Florida. So we encourage everyone to really stay in touch with their local news outlets – to kind of keep an ear on any changing development – especially to listen to these words of wisdom from those in charge.
Rachel: Absolutely. And we know that recently, just last year, a lot of people have moved to the state of Florida. For those who have not experienced a tropical storm, for those who have not experienced a hurricane, what advice would you recommend?
Lee: If you’re a new resident of Florida state, there are a lot of great resources out there these days. There are a lot of good sources of information. So, visit your county’s emergency management website, where you can get all kinds of tips and advice on how to prepare. What you should have in your hurricane kit. Finding your evacuation area is a great recommendation.
Rachel: I know you played a really big role when Lee County, when Southwest Florida was hit by Hurricane Irma several years ago. What do you think are the big lessons learned there and some things that people forgot or were not necessarily prepared for when this storm hit?
Lee: The state of Florida has some of the best emergency managers in the country, and that is true for the Southwest Florida area. Great decision makers – people who dedicate their careers to planning these types of events. Preparation begins at the individual and family level. Everyone has a role. It depends on the individual how best we can be prepared. Prepared people perform better in these scenarios. So, for the most part, people are prepared. I think they understand the risks. We are doing a very good job in Florida to get this message across as best we can. I expect people to notice this storm and prepare for it.
In addition to finding your evacuation zone on your county’s emergency management site, you can also visit floridadisaster.org/knowyourzone.