We applaud area residents for taking Hurricane Dorian seriously and getting prepared early

Let us be the first to praise Villagers and tri-county residents for taking the threat of Hurricane Dorian seriously and getting ready early.

Many residents are on edge as Dorian continues to dance around the Atlantic with a mind of its own. Where the devastating Category 4 storm hurricane might end up really is anybody’s guess, because this one truly has the forecasters scratching their heads on an hourly basis.

Maybe that huge uncertainty is what spurred Villagers to get prepared early. Maybe it’s the lessons learned from Hurricane Irma two years ago. Or maybe it’s just that Villages residents are really smart people who don’t have to be told more than once to prepare for a major hurricane. Regardless of the reason, it’s been great to see that happening and to know it will keep happening the days ahead.

Shoppers were picking up the essentials Friday afternoon at Sam’s Club in Lady Lake.

As we all know, getting ready for a hurricane isn’t easy. Putting hurricane kits together is a tedious job with a lengthy-but-essential checklist of items that could be needed. And making sure every member of your household has seven days of food, drink and medicine is stressful and time-consuming at best.

But if you ventured out to any of the area grocery, home improvement or big-box discount stores in the past few days, then you’ve seen what we’ve witnessed – Villagers with plans in place who knew exactly what they were shopping for. We didn’t see a lot of folks aimlessly wandering through any of the stores we visited. And knowing as many area residents as we do, we aren’t surprised in the least.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has worked around the clock to keep Floridians informed and to offer warnings about Hurricane Dorian.

While we’re talking about a job well done, we’d also like to praise Gov. Ron DeSantis for the way he’s handled his first major crisis as Florida’s leader. He’s been out and visible, traversing the state and giving daily news conferences. And he’s constantly stressed the need for seven days of supplies and complete hurricane kits every time he’s appeared on camera.

Like the governor, many government agencies have scrambled to keep residents informed as well. Officials in all three counties have been putting out tips for getting prepared, upcoming closures and how to get in touch with pertinent agencies by either email or phone. And they’ve all been quite active on Facebook and other forms of social media, which seems much more organized this time around than it did during Hurricane Irma.

Unfortunately, when it comes to Dorian, there’s just a great deal of unknowns. The latest model showed it coming ashore on the Treasure Coast near Fort Pierce and then possibly going up the middle of the state. If that were to happen, Dorian would likely be a Category 1 hurricane when it finally got to us – much like Irma was when it roared through The Villages two years ago.

But that’s just one of many models. All these hurricane forecasters have their ideas and models, some of which look like they were drawn by a group of 3-year-olds enjoying their first set of colored pencils. But as true Florida residents know, with Dorian slowing down and building up its strength, it’s just premature to know what the next few days hold for us.

On Friday night, some forecasters were suggesting Dorian might turn and go up the east coast of Florida, somewhat reminiscent of Hurricane Floyd in 1999. Others were suggesting it might go around the tip of the Sunshine State and head out into the Gulf of Mexico, which could create a whole new set of issues for Floridians. And some were sitting back and waiting for more information until throwing their projections out there.

Regardless of the path Dorian eventually takes, it’s been very satisfying and rewarding to see so many area residents take the hurricane seriously. Having the correct supplies can be the difference between life and death in a hurricane like Dorian. And understanding the severity of such a storm and following the directions of emergency officials also can be paramount to survival.

That said, let us remind everyone to get your hurricane kits ready and your vehicles filled with gas. The mad frenzy to purchase fuel has left some area gas stations with empty tanks, but DeSantis has made it clear that he will have fuel tankers with law enforcement escorts rolling into the state before and after Dorian hits. So, if you haven’t topped off your tank, this weekend is a good time to do just that.

Also, remember when putting your kit together that your pets also need the same things you do – food, water and medicine. So, please make sure they each have a bag ready as well.
As for hurricane kits, the items you need to include are:

  • One gallon of water per person per day for at least three to seven days, for drinking and sanitation;
  • At least a three-to-seven-day supply of non-perishable food with a manual can opener;
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio;
  • NOAA weather radio with tone alert;
  • Flashlight;
  • First aid kit;
  • Extra batteries;
  • Whistle to signal for help;
  • Dust mask to help filter contaminated air;
  • Plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place if need be;
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation;
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities;
  • Local maps; and
  • Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery.

Additional items to consider include:

  • Prescription medications in the sealed bottles they came in;
  • Non-prescription medications such as pain relievers, anti-diarrhea medication, antacids or laxatives;
  • Glasses and contact lens solution;
  • Infant formula, bottles, diapers, wipes, diaper rash cream;
  • Pet food and extra water for your pet;
  • Cash or traveler’s checks;
  • Important family documents such as insurance policies, identification and bank account records;
  • Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person;
  • A couple of complete changes of clothing and sturdy shoes;
  • Household chlorine bleach and a medicine dropper to disinfect water; and
  • Fire extinguisher.
We are all keeping our fingers crossed and hoping Hurricane Dorian isn’t a repeat of Hurricane Irma from two years ago.

As we said earlier, we applaud the majority of area residents for the way they’ve handled this hurricane threat. No one wants to live with the uncertainty this hurricane has caused for the more than 21.2 million residents residing in 67 counties that all are under the governor’s state of emergency. But we’re all hopefully making the best and preparing for the worst – just in case.

Like you, we’ll continue to say our prayers and hope our state is spared by this potentially devastating storm. And we’ll continue to do our best to keep you informed about as many details as possible as we all go through this unsettling time together.

So, please be safe and take care of each other. There’s never been a better time for neighbors to help neighbors than right now as we all face this frightening uncertainty together.