For the second consecutive year, Doral Family Journal organized the event ‘Hurricane Season Preparedness 2019’ to offer information about this important time of the year that starts on June 1st and ends on November 30th.
They appear in the photo above, from left to right: Councilwoman Christi Fraga; the representative of the Office of Emergency Management, Nixsa Serrano; the mayor of Doral, Juan Carlos Bermudez; the Editor in Chief of Doral Family Journal, Ettore Sabatella; the Commissioner of Miami-Dade, Jose “Pepe” Diaz, and the councilwoman Digna Cabral.
By: Diana Bello Aristizábal
DORAL, FL – On May 10th, several city representatives gathered at Provident Doral Hotel at The Blue Miami, to discuss the preventive measures, and actions residents should take in the face of the coming hurricane season. The preparation begins now!
The event counted with the presence of the Commissioner José “Pepe” Díaz, Mayor Juan Carlos Bermúdez, Councilwoman Digna Cabral, Councilwoman Christi Fraga, and Gustavo Garagorry, Assistant of the Councilman Pete Cabrera.
Also, also attended representatives from Florida City Gas and the Miami-Dade County Office of Emergency Management, influential businesspeople from the community, Associations presidents and clients of our publication.
The meeting was organized to offer recommendations on how to prepare before, during, and after the storms, as well as to remember past experiences from other hurricanes that left important lessons. These were recalled by the director of Doral Family Journal, Ettore Sabatella, by Commissioner “Pepe” Díaz, and by Mayor JC Bermudez. Both have been present in several of them, such as Hurricane Katrina, Wilma and, more recently, Maria.
It should be noted that in 2017, when Hurricane Maria arrived in South Florida as a tropical storm, Doral Family Journal worked alongside the community to report live all the events that took place in our city.
“We took a tour in connection with our Mayor who advised us not to go outside because wind bursts were too strong, but people were so concerned with the situation that we had to respond … From our social platforms, we even provided the information requested by the community through text messages, emails, or direct messages,” recalled Ettore Sabatella.
From that experience, one of the lessons learned was that trees and branches falling on streets and avenues could cause much damage. During Hurricane Maria, this fact contributed significantly to the congestion and collapse that occurred in the city.
For this reason, Doral Family Journal recommends to all housing distribution to trim their trees since the end of May, by reducing its foliage to 50 percent, so that these do not get out of their root, and cause significant damage to homes and vehicles.
Also, keep in mind that the county should be responsible for trees that are adjacent to wiring, as well as to verify branches that may block streets and avenues after the storm passes.
Another recommendation is that each housing distribution or community has an action plan previously established. Remember that staying together is very important at the time of facing an emergency and before the necessary help arrives.
On the other hand, it is also advisable to clean the drains of sewage water annually, and that each family takes the necessary actions to safeguard their physical integrity and personal belongings.
Successful execution of the above recommendations is possible if proper planning is carried out. This has been key in previous hurricane seasons such as the one experienced in 2017, which was characterized by a rapid mobilization and right strategies that lead Doral to be one of the cities that responded most quickly to post-storm activities like garbage, debris, and trees removal.
“In the face of an emergency, preparation is key. People must know in advance where to go because storms are unpredictable. Do not wait until the last minute,” said Commissioner Pepe Diaz during his speech. He has been at the forefront of natural disasters for 31 years and knows the destructive power they can have.
He also highlighted the work carried out last year by elected officials, who were on the street helping and responding to the community. “Last year we opened a record of 43 shelters, and no other county has done this in the entire United States history,” he said.
On the other hand, the Commissioner also suggested people follow the instructions given minute by minute by official organizations, to counteract the adverse effects of the storms. “We live in a paradise, but sometimes this paradise gets a bit difficult. Therefore, protect your homes, businesses, and, most importantly, your families,” said José Diaz.
Finally, he invited business owners to be fair with their employees in the sense of allowing them to create their protection mechanisms before the arrival of the hurricane season.
Recommendations from Florida City Gas and the Office of Emergency Management
Florida City Gas representative, Miguel Bustos, spoke about the company’s efforts to supply natural gas to all county hospitals, considering that many of them, such as Jackson Memorial and Baptist, generate electricity through this product.
“Our goal is that all these institutions have the product in case of an emergency,” said Miguel, who recalled that during hurricane Maria, only 30 lost natural gas in a period of fewer than 24 hours, while most, like restaurants, gas stations, supermarkets, and homes, were able to cook and use their water heaters without any issue.
Finally, Nixsa Serrano, a representative of the Office of Emergency Management, made significant recommendations to take into account before, during, and after the storms.
The first one is to always be on guard during hurricane season because many people think that the last months are the least dangerous ones when in reality September is the highest risk month. “We have numerous impacts in the county during September, and some in October,” she clarifies.
The good news, according to her, is that each year, better prevention and action strategies are developed in conjunction with municipalities, the public, and businesses. Nevertheless, she suggests making an individual analysis of personal vulnerabilities and risks, in addition to knowing the designated storm surge planning zone. There are 5 in total that can be verified at www.miamidade.gov
“Keep in mind that you will be vulnerable not only if you live near the beach, but also if you are near a canal or any other body of water, which is why everyone must be aware of the areas that need to be evacuated according to the National Hurricane Center, and the National Weather Service,” she explains.
It is also important to find an evacuation route, and designate an out-of-state contact point, such as a relative or friend so that all family members can communicate in case they lose track of each other. If a family decides to take shelter indoors, it is key to select a safe place inside of it, like a closet or a bathroom without windows.
Also, make proper arrangements for your pets, which involves having copies of vaccines information, buying enough food for them and identifying Pet-Friendly Evacuation Centers (PFEC), where the owners should stay as well, by calling 311 line.
Another important point highlighted by Nixsa Serrano in her presentation is to apply for a seat in the Emergency & Evacuation Assistance Program (EEAP) designed for those who have special needs, such as requiring permanent oxygen. If this is your case, call 311 and request an application now in order to be assigned to an appropriate evacuation center that meet your requirements.
Finally, she spoke about how important it is to remain calm during the storm, and not going outside even if it seems like the situation has returned to normal. “You have to stay inside the evacuation centers or homes until it is indicated that the storm has officially passed,” she says.
After the storm, the main recommendation is to assess the possible damage suffered by houses or businesses to make corresponding arrangements, check the food that was left in refrigerators, throw away food remains that may be contaminated or damaged, and be aware of any leak or power outage.