Hurricane Preparedness Tips

May 30, 2024 at 1:26 p.m.

By Chris Cameron

Both Sarasota County and Charlotte County Emergency Management have prepared an online guide to help you know the risks associated with hurricanes and offer advice to help you prepare for this year’s storm season. You can view and download the Sarasota County guide at For Charlotte County residents, go online to Printed copies of these guides will be available at local libraries.

Some of the points mentioned in the guides are listed below:

• Know Your Zone: Both Charlotte and Sarasota Counties have a color-coded evacuation level zone system. Red is the lowest elevation level, followed by higher elevation zones orange, yellow, green and purple. Most street signs are marked with a color band identifying that area’s zone. Find your zone in Charlotte County at For Sarasota County, go to and click on Know Your Evacuation Level.

• Storm Surge: If you have visited the Ft. Myers/Sanibel Island area since Hurricane Ian, you have seen the devastating effects from the storm surge, an abnormal rise of water generated by a storm, over and above the predicted tides. One scary statistic – about half the deaths associated with tropical storms and hurricanes are from storm surge flooding. Water can rise unbelievably quickly so don’t wait before evacuating to a safe area. Obey evacuation orders for barrier islands and along waterways that are subject to coastal water level rise and flooding due to excessive rainfall.

• Mobile or Manufactured Home: Mobile homes & RVs are an unsafe shelter in high winds, no matter how well fastened to the ground. You must evacuate to ensure your own safety. If you lived in or visited a manufactured home community after Hurricane Ian, you will recognize the value of this point.

• Your Evacuation Plan: Be prepared to evacuate your home before a storm hits. Plan where you will go: a friend’s home in a safe zone, leaving the area to a location outside the projected storm path, a hotel if you can secure a reservation, or as a last resort, an evacuation center. Take the following steps: Secure your home. Gather valuable documents, including insurance info. Have cash on hand in case power outages prevent you from accessing ATMs or banks. Pack personal hygiene items and non-perishable food. If you need to evacuate the area, leave as early as you can as highways and roads will be very crowded. Delaying your departure could result in getting stuck in traffic or encountering flooded highways. If an evacuation is mandatory for your area, heed the order immediately to avoid becoming trapped and unable to leave.

• Emergencies During a Storm: After storm winds reach 39 mph, first responders will not be able to get to you. Due to flying debris and other storm hazards, first responders will not go out on calls until it is deemed safe. If you call 911 during the height of a storm, theyll try to talk you through an emergency and then respond when they are able. 

• Evacuation Shelters: The closest shelters to Englewood are Taylor Ranch Elementary School, 2500 Taylor Ranch Trail, Venice, and some schools in North Port: Heron Creek Middle School, 6501 W. Price Blvd., North Port High School, 6400 W. Price Blvd., Woodland Middle School, 2700 Panacea Blvd., and Atwater Elementary School, 4701 Huntsville Avenue. The opening of shelters in Charlotte County are dependent on the size and direction of an approaching storm. In Port Charlotte shelters are Liberty Elementary School, 370 Atwater Street; Neil Armstrong Elementary School, 22100 Breezeswept Avenue; Kingsway Elementary School, 23300 Quasar Blvd.; and Harold Avenue Regional Park Rec Center, 23400 Harold Avenue. Note: The Charlotte County shelters are available only for lower category storms as there are no certified Red Cross shelters due to the county’s low elevation. You must head to one of Sarasota County’s designated shelters for a higher-level storm. Keep in mind that you must bring your own bedding, personal items, including extra clothes, food & snacks, disinfectant supplies, books/magazines and important documents.

• There are four ways to get to an evacuation center. 1. Use your personal transportation. 2. Sarasota County residents can use Breeze Transit service. 3. Travel to a Rally Point where Sarasota County will provide transportation. 4. Only as a last resort, Sarasota County will provide free transportation to designated rally points. In Englewood, the designated Rally Points are Buchan Airport Community Park, 1390 Old Englewood Road and the Englewood Sports Complex, 1300 S. River Road. Charlotte County does not have rally points or provide transportation unless you have special medical needs and are registered with the Medical Needs Program (see next tip).

• Medical Needs Program: Sarasota and Charlotte County residents with qualifying medical needs can apply for registration as a medically dependent person for transportation to an evacuation center equipped to meet their needs. You must register in advance at for Sarasota County residents or in Charlotte County, online at and search for Medical Needs Program. You can also go to Florida Special Needs Registry at

• Stay Informed: In Charlotte County, the Office of Emergency Management will issue alerts and information updates at @OEMCharlotteCounty on Facebook; @charlottefleoc on Instagram; @CCOEM on Twitter; Alert Charlotte; and Nextdoor. In Sarasota County, sign up for Alert Sarasota to receive rapid emergency updates at Another resource to receive official alerts about emergencies, road closures, announcements and community updates on your mobile device is Everbridge. Learn more at A weather radio is a valuable source of information for updates from NOAA Weather Radio. You can program it for alerts by county by entering the Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) code. For Charlotte County residents, the FIPS code is 12015; in Sarasota County, the FIPS code is 012115.

• Emergency Management officials recommend that you plan to have a 5-to-7-day supply of food and household needs. Prepare your supplies now as waiting until a potential storm approach may result in shortages at stores and most assuredly, huge crowds. Your time would be better spent making last minute preparations to secure your home and/or leaving unsafe areas. A comprehensive list of food and supplies for your hurricane preparedness kit can be found at UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County’s Disaster Preparedness page at