LABELLE – When it comes to hurricane preparedness, Hendry County Emergency Management advises sheltering at home if it is safe and using evacuation shelters as a last resort. Below is information for sheltering from its website:
Homeowners that live in safe homes outside of the evacuation area built in 2002 or newer with shutters to shelter in place at home with supplies.
Hendry County has two general 0opulation and one special needs shelters that will be used for a major hurricanes, as primary shelters. Additional secondary shelters may be opened if warranted.
Observe guidance and instructions as you arrive at an evacuation shelter for any potential changes in protocol dictated by federal, state or local government.
Social distancing and washing hands frequently will be important while in a shelter.
Masks are optional. According to the Florida Department of Health in Hendry and Glades County, anyone may wear a mask at evacuation centers. Some who may be unvaccinated or medically vulnerable should wear a mask however, nobody must wear a mask.
Hendry County will monitor conditions and if there is potential for a major hurricane impact, action may require increased capacity at evacuation centers.
Once an evacuation center reaches 75 percent capacity, additional shelters may be opened and new arrivals will be given the option of going to another nearby evacuation center with more open space, if it is safe to travel.
Residents in low-lying areas and mobile homes should seek shelter when conditions warrant. Many roads could be underwater well in advance of a storm, restricting their use as evacuation routes. If you are going to leave the area, be prepared to evacuate early. If an evacuation is called for, and you do not evacuate, you will be without fire rescue, law enforcement or emergency medical support until winds and waters subside.
If your home was built after 2002, and you are not in an evacuation zone, you may be more comfortable sheltering in place. A 2005 University of Florida study concluded that homes built under the 2002 Florida Building Code sustained less damage on average than homes built between 1994 and 2001 under the Standard Building Code. Homes built before 1994 also fared worse than those built after that year.
If you've decided that your home is not safe to ride out a storm:
• Stay with a friend or leave the area
Emergency management agencies recommend you arrange a “host home” outside the evacuation level. A host home is the home of a friend or family member who has agreed to provide temporary shelter for you and your family. Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as the “family contact.” Make sure everyone in the family knows the name, address and phone number of the family contact.
• Move to an evacuation shelter
In the event of a hurricane watch, Hendry County will open some shelters as needed. Hurricane evacuation shelters are not hotels and will not be able to provide any conveniences or luxuries. You will have no privacy, limited space - approximately 20 square feet per person in a public classroom or hallway - and meal service, if available, may be delayed. Evacuation shelters cannot provide bedding, cots or blankets. Not all listed shelters will be open for every storm. Local radio and television stations will announce which shelters are open. We cannot predict how long you may have to remain at the shelter, since we cannot predict how damaging the effects of each storm will be.
A shelter is a safe place to be during an emergency. However, it offers only the basic life-sustaining necessities, such as shelter from the weather; water; and sanitary services. The shelter will likely not have electricity for the majority of your stay. It will be noisy, crowded and somewhat uncomfortable.
• Going to an evacuation center should always be considered a last resort measure
Never go to an evacuation center until local officials announce it is open.
Checking in and then leaving (for example, to get supplies) will not be permitted.
Evacuation center information will be updated here, on the county’s website, on local radio and television stations and on the county’s accounts.
In the event the community is faced with a catastrophic storm, emergency officials will be focused on life safety and will bring into the shelter all those seeking refuge from the storm, reducing individual space allowance for a period of time.
You must bring your own personal hygiene items, sleeping bags/cots, blankets, towels and comfort items to the shelter.
Being considerate of others and having a positive attitude will be helpful to everyone.
Listen for official information and do not participate in gossip or rumors, which can be very disruptive.
Volunteer to help whenever possible. Food may or may not be provided. You should bring some food items with you.
If you have diet restrictions or require specialty foods, you must bring those.
Weapons, alcohol and smoking is not permitted in the shelters.