Preparedness and Safety
Although Floridians are most familiar with the
hurricane season and the damaging affects of a hurricane, it is not
the only type of disaster that Florida has to deal with. It is only
one type of natural disaster that can affect Floridians. In addition
man-made disasters can also cause serious concerns.
Florida Natural Disasters
In the United States, there
are an estimated 25 million lightning flashes each year. During the
past 30 years, lightning killed an average of 66 people. This is
more than the average of 65 deaths per year caused by tornadoes. Yet
because lightning usually claims only one or two victims at a time
and does not cause mass destruction of property, it is underrated as
a risk. While documented lightning injuries in the United States
average about 300 per year, undocumented injuries likely much
higher. Lightning is dangerous. With common sense, you can greatly
increase your safety and the safety of those you are with. At the
first clap of thunder, go a large building or fully enclosed vehicle
and wait 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder to back outside (Floridadisaster.org).
Ready.gov - Thunder and Lightening
NOAA Lightening Safety
FEMA describes tornados as
“nature’s most violent storms. Spawned from powerful thunderstorms,
tornadoes can cause fatalities and devastate a neighborhood in
seconds. A tornado appears as a rotating, funnel-shaped cloud that
extends from a thunderstorm to the ground with whirling winds that
can reach 300 miles per hour. Damage paths can be in excess of one
mile wide and 50 miles long. Every state is at some risk from this
Some tornadoes are clearly
visible, while rain or nearby low-hanging clouds obscure others.
Occasionally, tornadoes develop so rapidly that little, if any,
advance warning is possible.
Before a tornado hits, the
wind may die down and the air may become very still. A cloud of
debris can mark the location of a tornado even if a funnel is not
visible. Tornadoes generally occur near the trailing edge of a
thunderstorm. It is not uncommon to see clear, sunlit skies behind a
Ready.gov - Tornados
CDC on Tornados
Most commonly devastating
disaster that occurs in the U.S., a flood is defined by Webster as
“a rising and overflowing of a body of water especially onto
normally dry land; also: a condition of overflowing.” The affects of
a flood can be local or regional. It can cover multiple counties,
jurisdictions, or provinces.
It is extremely important
that you are aware of your flood hazard for your neighborhood and
home. Charlotte County residents are particularly susceptible to
storm surges. A storm surge is a rise of water on the shore
associated with a storm, typically a hurricane.
Charlotte County Emergency
Management provides concise information on local flood and storm
Charlotte EM Flooding
CDC Flood Information
Ready.gov - Flood Information
NIOSH Storm and Flood Cleanup
A hurricane is a violent
storm originating over tropical waters with sustained (constant)
winds over 74 mph. The winds, as in tropical depressions and
tropical storms, blow in a counterclockwise direction around the
center. Diameter of these storms can range anywhere from 100 to
The real hazard which can
occur with hurricanes include torrential rains, storm surge,
tornadoes, and high winds. Each of these has the potential to cause
severe injuries and fatalities.
All Hurricanes are
dangerous, but some are more so than others. The way storm surge,
wind and other factors combine determines the hurricanes destructive
power. To make comparisons easier and to make the predicted hazards
of approaching hurricanes clearer to emergency managers, National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's hurricane forecasters use a
disaster-potential scale which assigns storms to five categories.
This can be used to give an estimate of the potential property
damage and flooding expected along the coast with a hurricane.
The scale was formulated in
1969 by Herbert Saffir, a consulting engineer, and Dr. Bob Simpson,
director of the National Hurricane Center. The World Meteorological
Organization was preparing a report on structural damage to
dwellings due to windstorms, and Dr. Simpson added information about
storm surge heights that accompany hurricanes in each category.
damage to building structures. Damage primarily to
unanchored mobile homes, shrubbery, and trees. Also,
some coastal road flooding and minor pier damage
roofing material, door, and window damage to buildings.
Considerable damage to vegetation, mobile homes, and
piers. Coastal and low-lying escape routes flood 2-4
hours before arrival of center. Small craft in
unprotected anchorages break moorings.
structural damage to small residences and utility
buildings with a minor amount of curtain wall failures.
Mobile homes are destroyed. Flooding near the coast
destroys smaller structures with larger structures
damaged by floating debris. Terrain continuously lower
than 5 feet ASL may be flooded inland 8 miles or more.
extensive curtainwall failures with some complete roof
structure failure on small residences. Major erosion of
beach. Major damage to lower floors of structures near
the shore. Terrain continuously lower than 10 feet ASL
may be flooded requiring massive evacuation of
residential areas inland as far as 6 miles.
than 155 mph
Complete roof failure on many residences and industrial
buildings. Some complete building failures with small
utility buildings blown over or away. Major damage to
lower floors of all structures located less than 15 feet
ASL and within 500 yards of the shoreline. Massive
evacuation of residential areas on low ground within 5
to 10 miles of the shoreline may be required.
Charlotte EM Hurricane Information
National Hurricane Center
CDC Hurricane Information
NOAA Preparation Information
Ready.gov - Hurricane Information
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