Kings Point to host disaster planning symposium for residents July 13
By LOIS KINDLE
When it comes to being ready for a hurricane, it’s important to remember “Forewarned is forearmed.” Panicking when one gets here is too late and is often the result of a lack of knowledge and poor planning.
“In all my years, I’ve never seen anything productive that comes from fear,” said Chief Mike Bardell, of the Sun City Center Emergency Squad. “I think if people have enough information and know there’s a plan in place, they can feel more relaxed and prepared.
So community leaders from a plethora of organizations serving the Sun City Center area have met several times over recent months to discuss their plans for serving residents should the community be hit by a hurricane or other natural disaster. Now, they say, it’s time for them to share these plans with local residents.
From 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. July 13, Kings Point residents are invited to attend an important, free gathering in the Veteran’s Theater at the North Clubhouse to find out what they need to do in preparation for a hurricane and what response teams will do after the storm. The Community Association of Sun City Center had its own meeting June 8.
“Residents need to understand that right after a storm, they’re responsible for their own health and welfare,” said Bob Preston, of Sun City Center CERT (the Community Emergency Response Team). “We want to share the basic, grassroots information our residents need to know in order to survive.”
In addition to CERT, representatives of the following organizations have been invited to participate in the upcoming Kings Point meeting: TECO, South Bay Hospital, SCC Emergency Squad; SCC Security Patrol; Samaritan Services; amateur radio clubs; Vesta; the Kings Point Federation, Master Association and COA; NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration); Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, health department-sponsored special-needs and Hillsborough County shelters, several insurance providers and others.
“Our goal is to have every major organization with stakes in the game at this meeting,” Bardell said. “Everyone has three minutes to speak, and then they’ll go to their tables to provide additional information, provide handouts and answer questions.
For example, did you know the emergency squad cannot respond to a call for help once sustained winds of a storm reach 35 mph? Like Hillsborough County Fire Rescue, once that happens the squad must shut down to ensure its crews are safe and will be available to help after the storm passes. Other organizations, including Samaritan Services and the Sun City Center Security Patrol, have their own safety protocols.
Kings Point Amateur Radio Club members have licensed radio operators, who are capable of communicating with hospitals, first responders and emergency management organizations far and wide. Did you know they’re available to help residents communicate with out-of-town family members when all other means of communication aren’t working?
And are you aware that if you see an orange sign with a symbol of a telephone on it in a front window of a neighbor’s residence, it means they have radio communication and can help? Anyone desiring a two-way emergency radio capable of reaching out in a 50-mile radius can purchase one for $15 from the Kings Point Amateur Radio Club.
Vesta, the Kings Point Federation, Master Association and COA are also working together to keep residents informed and prepared.
Since Hillsborough County does not clear private roads, for example, contracts with the gated community’s landscaping companies will ensure trees and other debris left by a storm will be cleaned up. And a leadership team was formed recently to also create an evacuation plan, should one ever be needed.
Bardell, who is also president of the Oxford 1 COA, said another issue residents need to address is the amount of home or condo insurance coverage they currently have.
“They fully need to understand what will be covered by the coverage they carry,” he said. “If water enters your home through wind-born rain, it likely will be covered; if it’s from standing water, probably not.”
Bardell said insurance company representatives will discuss these and other issues in layman’s terms and what amounts of coverage will be sufficient. For example, did you know that you are responsible for everything in your home outside of your drywall? This means if your kitchen is damaged, you’ll be responsible for appliances, cabinets, flooring, etc. Your KPW coverage won’t cover that, and if you only have $10,000 of homeowners or condo owners insurance, you’ll have a big problem.
The bottom line is to be informed and decide now what you can do to protect yourself and your assets.
Come learn about these issues and others, like determining your safe place, what to do for your pets and much more so you’ll be ready if we get a big storm this year.
“It’s imperative that all residents make a plan and get their supplies in advance of an approaching storm,” Preston said. “We’re not in an evacuation zone, but if you have someone in your home with special needs, you should register them in advance.”