Marion County residents started to come to grips Tuesday with the real possibility of facing a tropical storm or hurricane on Labor Day Weekend.
Early Tuesday morning, the National Hurricane Center issued a hurricane watch and a tropical storm warning for Puerto Rico, which is still dealing with the devastation left behind by Hurricane Maria in 2017. Officials in the Dominican Republic also issued similar warnings for some parts of the island.
A large group from Miami-Dade Fire Rescue’s Urban Search and Rescue team headed for Puerto Rico Tuesday with supplies and equipment that included everything from medicine to trucks to boats. And the Puerto Rican National Guard was deploying throughout the island in anticipation of the storm.
In Marion County and Ocala, residents who still have bad memories of Hurricane Irma were paying close attention to updates on Dorian. Several models have the storm coming ashore in Brevard County and passing south of Orlando, but weather forecasters say it’s much too early to predict what might happen as Dorian continues to move across the Atlantic Ocean.
A telling factor likely will come when the storm passes through an area known as the Mona Passage, an 80-mile-wide corridor between Hispaniola and Puerto Rico. Dorian currently is surrounded by an abundance of dry air and has remained relatively small. But by Wednesday night forecasters believe they’ll have a much better picture of where the storm is headed and whether it will strengthen, weaken or even dissipate.
Regardless of Dorian’s eventual path, residents are being advised to prepare for the worst, put fuel in their vehicles and have their hurricane kits ready. Items to include are:
- One gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
- At least a three-day supply of non-perishable food with a manual can opener
- Battery-powered or hand-crank radio
- NOAA weather radio with tone alert
- First aid kit
- Extra batteries (these sell fast so be prepared)
- 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
- 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
- Fire extinguisher.
It’s also important to keep a list of pertinent contacts, such as local emergency management and government offices, hospitals, utilities, the local chapter of the American Red Cross and your insurance agent. The Marion County Emergency Management Center is located at 692 NW 30th Ave. in Ocala and can be reached at (352) 369-8100.
Residents also are urged to call 911 if you have an emergency that requires help from law enforcement, fire departments or EMS units.