Greater Sun City Center Hurricane Guide


When do hurricanes occur?

  • Officially, the Hurricane Season runs from the first of June to the end of November. The Atlantic Ocean hurricanes (which would be weakened as they traveled overland to Sun City Center) tend to form in August/September. The Sun City Center area is most vulnerable in June/July and September/October when hurricanes tend to form nearby in the Caribbean.

Who's in charge?

  • The Hillsborough Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is in overall charge of any disaster in the County. Following the hurricane, the Hillsborough County Fire Chief becomes the lead officer who directs all rescue efforts from the EOC. He has the responsibility and training to dispatch people, equipment and material to where it is needed.

Before the storm...

  • The National Hurricane Center in Miami determines the status of an approaching hurricane. Based on the topography of Florida, our location and the nature of past Caribbean storms, the worst case scenario predicted for Sun City Center would be for us to be on the receiving end of a Category 3 Storm. This implies maximum winds of 135 miles-per-hour (mph).

  • The National Hurricane Center issues a WATCH 36 hours before landfall and a WARNING 24 hours before landfall.

When an Official Watch is issued (usually 36 hours before landfall)...

  • Local organizations activate the "Watch" phase of their emergency plans.

When an Official Warning is issued (usually 24 hours before landfall)...

  • Local organizations activate the "Warning" phase of their emergency plans.

Who decides it is time to issue a Disaster Evacuation Notice?

  • A committee composed of representatives of all cities in Hillsborough County, the County Commissioners and officials of the EOC continuously review the hurricane's predicted progress and make the decision when they feel it is in the best interests of our residents to declare an Evacuation.

Are shelters available in Sun City Center?

  • No! Because of our height above sea-level and our distance from the gulf, Sun City Center is not an evacuation area, and therefore there are NO shelters available to the residents, other than those with Special Medical Needs (see the next section). The best bets are to either leave the area way ahead of time (like several days) or to simply stay in your home. If you decide to leave the area, keep in mind that Interstate 75 will be clogged with the folks from Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Sarasota and Manatee Counties who are also trying to flee the storm.

Who should plan to evacuate?

  • Only residents with Special Medical Needs will be evacuated to Shelters! Riverview High School is designated to be the local Emergency Medical Shelter during a disaster for residents with "special medical needs". The criteria for Special Medical Needs are:

    • Your activities of daily living are so restricted by immobility or illness that your basic needs must be met by others, who may not be available during the emergency. In other words, if you are not able to survive on your own for 24-hours, you should go to the shelter.
    • You require daily assessment of an unstable medical condition by professional nursing personnel - for instance severe diabetes, cardiac or similar conditions.
    • You depend on electricity for life-support, like for a cardiac or respiratory condition, which requires special equipment such as monitors or oxygen. These must be brought with you to the shelter. When a disaster is declared, all oxygen supplies held by distributors are diverted to Shelters.
    • You require dialysis treatments.

    A caregiver or family member is encouraged to go with you to the Shelter. They are most familiar with your condition and your needs. The volunteer nurses at the shelter could have several hundred patients in their care and need all the help they can get. No pets are allowed.

  • Special Needs shelters (such as Riverview High School) are limited in the type and amount of care they can provide. If you need 24-hour skilled care, require a hospital bed or a ventilator, you should not plan to go to the Riverview High School Special Needs shelter! Instead, you should ask your physician to arrange something else.

  • All transportation to the Special Needs shelter is arranged through the County. They will only have so much time and equipment to complete the evacuation, so they must know now exactly what to plan for. When the time comes, they will schedule your transportation by different local groups. It is absolutely vital that the County knows now whom they will have to transport by wheelchair van or ambulance.

    You have to fill out a Special Needs Evaluation form now.

    Click here to go to the County site to get Special Needs information and the form.

    Or you can call the County Health Department (307-8015, Ext. 6006) to get the "Hillsborough County Health Department Shelter Evacuation Form." You'll get a recorded message - leave your telephone number and they'll call you back. Then they'll send the form to you which you will complete and then return to them. Call them today if you have special transportation concerns.

  • However, if you live in an assisted living facility, congregate hoursing or a nursing home, it is the responsibility of those organizations (by State Law) to provide the needed transportation to the appropriate disaster shelters. Call your Administrator now and make absolutely sure that he/she has a Disaster plan that includes transportation provisions to shelters for those with special medical needs!

Calls to and from the kids...

  • One of the by-products of disasters are disabled or clogged telephone lines as relatives check on your health and well-being. This is quite understandable. However, encourage your relatives (before the storm) to not call you within 24 hours after the storm. And be sure to let them know what your plans are before or as soon as the official Hurricane Watch is issued. Promise to give them a call or send them e-mail after the storm, if possible. Select one relative or friend outside the area to be the call center for your family. You call them and then people who care about you also call them to get an update on your situation. If the local phone system fails, ham radio operators will be at the Hospital, Emergency Squad, Security Patrol, Old Town Hall and KP Clubhouse. They will be able to send a message from you to those outside the area. If you are one of the residents with "special medical needs" who will be transported to a shelter, let your relatives know in advance so that they won't worry, since they will not be able to reach you there.

When the winds reach 35 mph (with gusts to 50 mph)...

  • The Sheriff's Deputies switch to "Emergency Deployment" status.

  • Almost all other emergency response activity is suspended. The reason for this is that an emergency vehicle (fire truck, ambulance, etc.) destroyed during the height of the storm for a single run would not be available for all of the emergency runs after the storm. Ambulance operations are particularly dangerous during high winds to both the personnel and patient!

  • Almost all of the private homes in Sun City Center and Kings Point are built of concrete block. A few simple precautions are to turn-off the electricity and water and to move to an interior room that does not have windows and would not become a glass-carrying wind-tunnel between the front and back windows of the house. In many of the homes, the interior bathroom or a walk-in closet should be considered. The smaller the room, the better it should shelter you - and it should have a door that closes solidly. Minimum survival equipment includes a heavy blanket and weatherproof tarp to cover you if the roof comes off and the rain and debris comes in, flashlight, portable radio and jugs of water. Don't drink booze! You'll need your full agility and wits about you during and after the storm.

During the storm...

  • The storm will last roughly 8 to 12 hours. If the eye passes near Sun City Center, there will be three parts to the storm. The initial storm build-up of several hours will culminate in the fury of the passage of the leading eye-wall. This eye-wall may also contain tornados. The second part will be the very brief calm within the eye of the storm which may last for anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes. Don't go for a stroll during the calm because... The third part of the storm will start suddenly with the full fury of the passage of the back eye-wall and then gradually taper off over a period of hours. And the wind will probably be from a very different direction causing still more property damage.

After the hurricane has passed, winds have dropped below 35 mph and it is safe to venture out...

  • The Emergency Squad, Security Patrol, Radio Clubs and other emergency organizations resume operations when the EOC gives permission and when the roads are passable. No one, other than emergency vehicles, will be permitted on the roads until the Fire Department makes its storm damage assessment and permits general traffic.

  • Residents should check on their neighbors if within walking distance. Expect to find the streets littered with roofing nails, glass, roofing tiles, trees, downed and hot power lines, etc. Common sense dictates that one should not drive around to look at the damage because you're bound to get a flat tire(s) from the nails and glass and your car may end up blocking an emergency corridor. Likewise, if you decide to walk around to view the damage, assume that ALL wires laying on the ground are live! Generally, you're safest if you stay at home.

Whom should I call in case of a medical problem?

  • Life Threatening Medical Emergencies should call the Emergency Squad at 634-3800. "911" will tend to be jammed with calls.

Emergency communications...

  • In the event that there is a total failure of the telephone system, ham radio operators will be at the Hospital, Emergency Squad, Security Patrol, Old Town Hall and KP Clubhouse. They will be able to send a message from you to the proper authorities.

Current Weather/Hurricane Information

Last updated: August 28, 2015

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If you have any questions, corrections or additions,
please contact Dave Brown, 634-6048,
dbrown28@tampabay.rr.com

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