Just a few months ago when talking about Tropical Storm Hermine I said that sometimes the weatherman has a tendency to get us all riled up only for it to be much less significant than promised. But for some in our community, the effects of Hermine were devastating. Flooding forced folks out of their homes, response crews had to be brought in from other states and some families are just now getting back on their feet.
But Matthew is a different monster entirely this could be the biggest hurricane to hit our state in a decade. This impending storm has already brought destruction to Haiti as a Category 4 with winds nearing 150 miles per hour and it could be making landfall at this severe level in Florida as soon as Thursday. I hope everyone is keeping a keen eye on developments.
Now, even though the eye of the storm seems to be tracking just east of Marion, Lake, Citrus, Sumter and Hernando counties, everyone still needs to be prepared for the worst. Recent reports are saying winds of 50 miles per hour or more are to be expected in our District, this is just about the speed that can take down big trees. And the possibilities of residual flooding, power outages, waterspouts and tornadoes all scenarios that can do damage to our property, or worse, harm one of our loved ones should be considered a real threat.
Like I have said already many times throughout my years as Sheriff and Congressman, the reasons I take any natural disaster threat like this so seriously is that I know how susceptible parts of our District are to flooding. With many homes located near the coast and other bodies of water, we know it doesn't take much for rising water levels to become a huge problem very quickly. Additionally, Governor Rick Scott has already declared a State of Emergency for Florida and may even issue mandatory evacuation orders for some parts of our state.
This may not be groundbreaking advice I recognize that many of you are experienced Floridians and have seen a storm or two in your time. But, I urge everyone to have some sort of plan in place, even if it may feel redundant or unnecessary. Chat with your neighbors, check in with family, maybe grab a few necessary supplies prior to rainfall and most importantly, make sure there is a cohesive strategy in place should things turn for the absolute worst. Also, I am sure some of you have friends or relatives living over on the Atlantic side please make sure they are aware of the approaching danger as well.
To close things out, wanted to let everyone know that The State of Florida actually has a really useful website specifically dedicated to helping make sure that you and anyone in your household are as organized and as prepared as possible. It only takes a few minutes to fill out and could prove incredibly useful should Matthew bring what is expected. Click the following to get your personalized emergency management plan: http://flgetaplan.com/.
A few other useful tools and resources regarding hurricane preparedness and recovery can be found at the following websites for the National Hurricane Center http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/ and Florida Division of Emergency Management http://www.floridadisaster.org/index.asp.
The main takeaway here is that forecasting the path of any storm, especially one this consequential, is difficult at best. And it is possible that Matthew could shift more westward according to some weather professionals. Please stay up to date with the most recent storm track.
And if there is any help my office can offer, please feel free to reach out.